Freshman Brett Lindsay (Gloucester, Va./Gloucester) smacked EMU's third straight walk-off homerun, but the Royals didn't have enough for a sweep. Saturday's split against Lynchburg College left Eastern Mennonite one game shy of the ODAC Tournament.
It was still a strong finish to the year for a young team that only recently broke a 12-game losing streak. EMU won four of their final five games to stay in the playoff hunt, closing the season with a record of 15-24 overall and 6-14 in the ODAC.
EMU 9, Lynchburg 7 – 10 innings
The first game was loaded with early scoring chances for both teams.
After pregame Senior Recognition Day ceremonies, Damon Frazier (Waynesboro, Va./Wilson Memorial) struck out the first two LC batters he faced. The third, however, sent a homerun over the scoreboard in left field to give the Hornets the first lead.
An RBI groundout from Corey Willis (Fredericksburg, Va./Massaponax) tied it in the third, and the Royals loaded the bases again in the fourth. Daniel Scott (Moneta, Va./Staunton River) sent a gapper into right center, bringing in all three runners with his fourth triple of the year. Frazier followed with a sacrifice fly, giving EMU a 5-1 lead.
Lynchburg (15-22/8-12 ODAC) quickly fired back, loading the bases in the fifth and plating three runs to get within one and chase Frazier from the mound. The Hornets kept sneaking in runs, scoring once in each the sixth, eighth and ninth innings to go ahead 7-5.
After giving up six unanswered scores, the top of EMU's order came through in the ninth. Jacob Merica (Elkton, Va./East Rockingham) led off with a single, and Scott was hit by an 0-2 pitch. Frazier coaxed a walk and suddenly the Royals had the bases loaded with nobody out. A grounder from Jaylon Lee (Newport News, Va./Denbigh) chased in one run, and Willis tied it with a two-out single to force extra innings.
The Hornets got their leadoff batter on with a walk in the tenth, but Tyler Campbell (Luray, Va./Luray) got three straight ground balls to strand the runner at third.
Tyler McFadden (Virginia Beach, Va./Salem) drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the frame and Lindsay cranked a 2-2 breaking ball over the wall in left for the winner. It was Lindsay's first game back on the field since April 10 after missing seven games due to injury.
Lindsay's blast was also the third straight walk-off homerun for the Royals, following Willis' 10th-inning shot in last Saturday's 2-1 win over Hampden-Sydney and Scott's three-run bomb in Wednesday's 6-5 win over Bridgewater.
Billy Quinn (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) had three hits to pace the offense. Scott accounted for five runs while Merica scored three times. Frazier had a hit and two walks. Lee had two hits and McFadden walked twice.
Campbell improved to 3-4 with the win, allowing just one run in 3.0 innings of relief. Frazier struck out six and allowed four runs in 4.2 innings, while Ryan Brewer (Martinsville Va./Franklin County) was charged with two in 2.1.
Lynchburg 15, EMU 4
As much momentum as the Royals had earned on Lindsay's homerun, they lost it on a three-run homer from the Hornets in the first inning of the nightcap. LC started the second with a solo shot and used a grand slam to cap a seven-run inning for a 10-0 lead before EMU even got to their fourth batter.
To the Royals' credit, they never gave up despite the huge deficit. The men earned at least one baserunner in every inning, but couldn't string together a big rally.
Quinn had an RBI groundout in the second and Lee drilled a solo homerun in the fourth. In the sixth, Lee put an RBI double off the wall in left center and Willis tacked on an RBI single to get the men within 11-4.
That was as close as they would get, however, as Lynchburg's 22-hit attack kept them in front.
Lee had a strong finish to his freshman season, batting 3-4 with two runs and two RBIs. The homerun was his third. Lindsay earned the start after coming off the bench in game one, and had a single with two walks, scoring twice.
All six of EMU's seniors played in the game, including Julian Bussells (Linden, Va./Warren County), who singled to lead off the ninth. Both he and Frazier were lifted for pinch runners in the last frame, each drawing an ovation from the home crowd. Tristan Childress (Waynesboro, Va./Waynesboro) pitched an inning earlier in the game, while Tyler Wilcher (Staunton, Va./Buffalo Gap), Brendon Salladay (Chesapeake, Va./Great Bridge) and Adam Marston (Woodstock, Va./Miller School) were all in the game by the eighth inning.