Bridgewater scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning to break a 3-3 tie and relievers Tyler Slanovec and Dillon Via blanked Shenandoah over the final two innings as the Eagles finished off the 5-3 victory to emerge as the lone undefeated team left in the South Region tournament.
Bridgewater, now 36-12, will await the survivor of the loser’s bracket in Saturday afternoon’s championship round at 3:30 p.m.
The Eagles took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning with starter Robert Gallet still on the mound. Corbin Lucas led off the inning with a single, but Gallet retired the next two batters. Michael Paul then belted a homer over the right-field wall to tie the score at 3-3. Dan Powers followed Paul’s homer with a double just inside the left-field line, but Gallet retired Joe Bittner on a liner to left to end the inning.
Bridgewater responded and regained the lead with two runs in the top of the eighth. Tyler Hoffman reached on an infield single with one out and then moved to second on a passed ball. With two outs, Nick Fulk walked and Derrik Walling followed with a line single to right, scoring Hoffman to put the Eagles on top 4-3. With runners at the corners, Bryan Sanderson singled up the middle to score Fulk for a 5-3 Eagles lead.
The Hornets put the potential tying runs on the base paths in both the eighth and ninth innings, but were unable to come up with the clutch base hit.
Slanovec relieved Gallet to pitch the bottom of the eighth. J.J. McDaniel reached on an infield single to start the inning, but Daniel Freshley was out on a fly to left for the first out of the inning. Lew Johnson singled to put runners at first and second, but Johnson was erased at second on a grounder by Corbin Lucas for the second out of the eighth. With runners at the corners, Billy Arens hit a grounder to short and Zach Hynes made the play and stepped on the bag for the force out to end the inning.
The Hornets threatened again in the ninth against Via. With one out, Paul and Powers delivered consecutive singles to put the potential tying runs on the base paths. Via worked out of the jam by inducing Bittner to hit into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play to finish off the 5-3 victory.
Gallet, now 5-1 on the season, picked up the win with seven solid innings on the mound. He allowed three runs on eight hits while striking out six and walking just one. Via’s save was his fourth of the season and his second of the day as he also closed out Friday’s early victory over Emory.
Hynes led the Eagles at the plate with three of the team’s eight hits. Darren Yoder continued his hot hitting with two RBIs in the game.
The Eagles took the early lead with a run in the top of the third. Bay Liskey walked and took second on Hoffman’s sacrifice bunt. Liskey scored when Yoder lined a triple to the right-center field gap for a 1-0 Eagles lead.
Shenandoah threatened against Gallet in the bottom of the fourth, but failed to produce a run. Andrew Creamer led off with a single, but was forced out at second on Paul’s grounder. Powers walked and Bittner singled to left to load the bases with one out. Gallet then struck out McDaniel and Freshley to strand three runners on the bases.
The Hornets were in business again in the fifth when Johnson led off with a long double to right and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Lucas. Arens was hit by a pitch to put runners at the corners with one out. Johnson scored on Creamer’s grounder to second, tying the score at one run apiece.
The Eagles regained the lead with two runs in the sixth. Hynes led off with a single, but was out at second on Justin Petock’s grounder. Brendan Howell and Liskey both walked to load the bases, ending the day for Hornets starter Michael Scimanico. Hornets reliever Cody Vorous retired Hoffman on a pop foul, but then walked Yoder and Fulk to force in a pair of runs, making the score 3-1. Shenandoah went to the pen for lefty Andrew Zarobila to face pinch-hitter Kenner Berry. Berry hit a hard grounder to first that was knocked down by Powers. Powers flipped to Zarobila covering the bag to retire Berry by a step to end the inning.
Shenandoah put two runners on in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, McDaniel reached on an error and Freshley was hit by a pitch. Lew Johnson then hit a sharp grounder to Hynes at short and he made the throw to first to end the inning, setting the stage for the final three innings of action.