The baseball team played the LaGrange College Panthers Wednesday night, winning by a score of 10-5. With the win, the Eagles improved their record to 24-11 on the season.
“This was a great game for us,” senior first baseman Jay Page said. “Everything came together. It was a great win for our team.”
Freshman pitcher Connor Dillman started for Emory, earning the win to improve his record to 8-1.
With his eighth victory, Dillman set a new record for wins by an Emory freshman pitcher, breaking a mark which had stood since 1997.
“Connor has pitched amazingly the whole year,” Page said. “Every time he goes out, we feel that it is going to be a win because he has such dominant stuff. He is a force to be reckoned with on the mound.”
Dillman threw for six innings, allowing four runs, four hits and four walks while striking out 10.
He increased his season strikeout total to 76, setting another freshman pitching record for the Eagles in the process.
“Connor has stepped up for us big time this year,” sophomore catcher Jared Welch said. “He had never been a starter before coming to college, and has made the transition really well. He has exceeded all expectations.”
The Eagles got on the scoreboard first, bringing a run across home plate in the second inning. Freshman outfielder Wes Peacock reached base after being hit by a pitch, stole second base and advanced to third base on a throwing error.
Junior second baseman Mark Lindemann then doubled, scoring Peacock.
The Panthers retaliated with a run in the bottom of the inning, but Emory took the lead for good in the third inning. Walks to Welch, junior designated hitter Daniel Iturrey and Page loaded the bases.
After senior shortstop Kevin O’Connor lined into a double play, Peacock doubled, scoring Welch and Iturrey. A single from freshman third baseman Warren Kember scored Peacock and gave the Eagles a 4-1 lead.
“We were patient at the plate and hit very well,” Page said. “We have stopped swinging at bad pitches.”
The Eagles added two more runs to their tally in the fourth inning. Freshman right fielder Brett Lake and sophomore center fielder Brandon Hannon both reached base on errors to begin the inning.
After a Welch groundout advanced them to second and third bases, respectively, Iturrey singled to score Lake. Page then grounded out, driving in Hannon.
LaGrange scored twice in the bottom of the fourth, but the Eagles tacked on three more runs in the fifth to put the game out of reach. Lindemann began the inning with a walk, then advanced to second base on an error and to third base on a failed pickoff attempt.
Lake then hit a sacrifice fly to score Lindemann. Hannon bunted for a single, advanced to second base on an error and to third base on a Welch single. Welch stole second base, and Page then doubled to bring home both Hannon and Welch.
Senior Connor McGuiness came in to pitch for Dillman in the seventh inning. He threw one and two-thirds innings of scoreless baseball, not allowing a single runner to reach base.
McGuiness, a captain, has been battling injuries throughout his career.
“Connor has been a key factor on the team the whole year,” Page said. “He is a major reason why the whole pitching staff is throwing so well. He works with all the young kids. He is pitching through a lot of pain, but came out and dominated [Wednesday] night.”
The Eagles only have four games left on their schedule, facing Oglethorpe College this weekend in a two-game series before battling Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.) and North Georgia College next week.
The team considers a win against Birmingham-Southern, who is ranked ninth in the country, to be crucial for them getting a regional bid.
“We have beat Biringham-Southern twice already this year,” Welch said. “Sweeping them would really solidify our chances for making the playoffs. The selection committee would see how well we can play against good competition.”
The Eagles will play again next Saturday, April 28 when they travel to Oglethorpe for a 2 p.m. game.
— Contact Bennett Ostdiek.