By Wesley Evans
HARRISONBURG, Va.—The Southern Virginia University baseball team fell to host Eastern Mennonite University, 9-7, at EMU Baseball Field Wednesday evening in Harrisonburg, Va.
Having faced the Royals just six days ago, Southern Virginia's offense started right out of the gate as it scored two runs in the top of an error-plagued first inning for the Eastern Mennonite. Leadoff batter Mitch Mantle singled through the right side to get things started.
After advancing to third by two consecutive errors on pick-off attempts, right fielder Hunter Allen hit an RBI single to put the first run on the scoreboard.
Freshman catcher Ryan Gabriel reached on another Eastern Mennonite error, putting runners on first and second, before the Knights played small ball. After a sacrifice bunt by Zach McNally put runners in scoring position, starting pitcher Tyler King helped himself by putting the ball in play and scoring Allen, increasing the Knight lead to 2-0.
In the bottom half, Southern Virginia recorded two quick outs before Jonathan Estrada doubled to left field. Kyle Mathews then singled to right field, scoring Estrada to cut the Knight deficit to 2-1 after one complete.
The top of the second saw Southern Virginia putting another run across the board to build a 3-1 lead. Second baseman Andrew Price singled to center field, then advanced to second on a wild pitch before advancing to third on another Royal error. Mantle grounded out to the shortstop, but scored Price on the play.
Eastern Mennonite answered in the bottom of the second with four runs of its own to take the lead, two of which came off a Justin Rodriguez triple to right centerfield.
Both squads were held scoreless in the third and fourth innings, but the Royals tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the fifth and one in the sixth to take a 9-3 lead.
The Knights chipped into the lead with two runs in the top half of the seventh off a Gabriel double and a King single to centerfield. King finished 3-5 on the day to go along with two RBI.
Southern Virginia would go on to put up two more in its final at bats as CJ Andrus came up clutch with a two-out, two-RBI single to centerfield. It would not be enough though as Keenan Johnson flied out to center following an Eastern Mennonite pitching change to end the game.
Andrus went 1-4 with two RBI while Allen finished 3-5 and Mantle 2-5, both with an RBI apiece.
King took the loss in the decision, giving up nine runs on 12 hits while striking out one in 5.1 innings of work.
Relief pitcher Kyle Armstrong earned the win for the Royals, giving up two runs on six hits in 4.0 innings pitched.
With the loss, Southern Virginia falls to 5-22 on the season while Eastern Mennonite improves to .500 at 18-18.
The Knights travel to Roanoke College for a Thursday night tilt tomorrow at Kiwanis Field in Roanoke, Va. The first pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.