Eastern Mennonite ended the season on a high note, getting 13 hits from their senior class and a brilliant pitching performance in a 6-3 nightcap win at Lynchburg College.
The Royals won two of three games over the final weekend, all on the road, including Friday's win at Bridgewater to complete their first season sweep of the Eagles in program history. Also in the final weeks of the year, EMU also had a walk-off win over nationally ranked Randolph-Macon on Senior Day.
Lynchburg 7, EMU 3
After two scoreless frames, the Hornets were the first to score, getting a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the third.
The Royals threw out an LC runner at home to end the bottom of the fourth, and carried the momentum into the fifth where Dean Lowery (Chesapeake, Va./Grassfield) led off with a triple. He came home on an RBI groundout from Kyle Salladay (Chesapeake, Va./Grassfield), but Lynchburg returned fire in their next at-bat, using their own leadoff triple to trigger a three-run frame for a 5-1 lead.
Kyle Mathews (Chesapeake, Va./Great Bridge) lined an RBI triple for EMU in the sixth and then came home on a sacrifice fly from Ryan Hedrick (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby), getting the men back within two at 5-3.
But the Hornets kept the edge, getting single runs in the sixth and seventh, while facing the minimum of nine EMU batters over the final three innings.
The offense was limited to six hits, their lowest total since March 11. Mathews was the only Royal to reach base twice with his triple and a walk. He scored a run and drove in another.
Jake Brown (Gloucester, Va./Gloucester) gave up four earned runs in 5.2 frames of work, falling to 1-5. Fellow seniors Kyle Johnson (Nathalie, Va./Rustburg) and Josh Sydenstricker (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes) each had good relief stints.
EMU 6, Lynchburg 3
Coach Ben Spotts changed up his lineup in the nightcap so he could start nine seniors in the batting order. The three senior pitchers all threw in the opening, allowing each member of the 12-man class to play on their final day.
The move also paid offensive dividends, as the Royals smacked 13 hits, including four in the first inning. Lowery and Salladay each had RBI singles, as EMU jumped in front 2-0.
LC tied the game in their first at-bat, getting a two-run double with two outs, before grabbing the lead on a squeeze play in the second.
Neither team scored again until the sixth, when the Royals put together a pair of singles. Ian Norris (Virginia Beach, Va./Salem) came home on a groundout from Mathews to tie the score at 3-3.
On the mound, Tyler Campbell (Luray, Va./Luray) relieved starter Bailey Hall (Daleville, Va./James River) in the fifth, and was flat out dominant. The right-hander allowed an infield single to the first Hornet he faced but then did not allow another hit over the final five innings. Lynchburg's only semblance of a rally came in the eighth, where Campbell walked a batter and hit another before getting out of the two-out jam. His other three innings were 1-2-3 frames.
After tying the score in the sixth, Eastern Mennonite took the lead in the eighth with one big swing. Joe Hall (Gladys, Va./Rustburg) reached on an infield single with two outs. Walks to Mathews and Hedrick loaded the bases, and Lowery hit a gapper into left center, chasing home all three runners with his huge triple.
Campbell finished up his best performance of the year with three quick outs in the ninth, scattering just one hit and three total base runners in 5.0 innings to get his first win of the season. Bailey Hall allowed four hits and three runs in the first 4.0 frames for a no decision.
But the seniors highlighted the day. Lowery finished 2-5 at the plate with four RBIs, the second-highest total of his career.
Joe Hall went 3-5 with a run. He also stole three bases to finish with an ODAC-best 25 on the season, breaking Maven Huffman's EMU record of 24 stolen bases from the 1997 season. The utility player came in with 71 hits on the season, one short of the EMU record of 72 set by Erik Kratz in 2002 and tied by current assistant coach Adam Posey in 2014. Hall ends the year with a .447 batting average, higher than the .423 he had as a sophomore to win the 2015 ODAC batting title, but second this season to Shenandoah's Luke Nussman at .469.
Norris tied his career high with three hits, while Salladay had a pair of singles and a walk. Mathews and Hedrick each had a hit and walk, scoring twice. Mathews added an RBI. Griffin Stanley (Roanoke, Va./Cave Spring), David Meehan (Virginia Beach, Va./Salem) and Brandon Trujillo (Virginia Beach, Va./Salem) also played their final game in an EMU uniform.
Eastern Mennonite ends the year with a record of 19-20, just one win shy of their second winning season over the past 15 years. The win total is the team's second highest since finishing 20-19 in 2014.