Junior David Coble was hit by a 0-2 pitch with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 12th inning to force across the game-winning run and give the Eagles a 3-2 win over Marietta College on Friday, as Emory moved along to the final day of the NCAA South Regional at Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia.
Emory improved to 28-13 on the season, and is now 17-11 all-time in NCAA elimination games, including a 10-1 record in elimination contests over the last two seasons.
Emory will need to win two more games on Saturday to advance to the final round of the NCAA Division III Championships in Appleton, Wisconsin. The Eagles will face 18th-ranked Pacific Lutheran University at noon tomorrow, and depending on the results of tonight's game between Pacific Lutheran and Birmingham-Southern College, will need to either beat the Lutes twice (with a Pacific Lutheran win tonight), or the Lutes followed by the Panthers (with a Birmingham-Southern win tonight). The second game would take place at 3:30 pm on Saturday.
Friday's game featured a go-ahead two-run home run in the top of the ninth for Marietta, followed by a game-tying RBI single for junior Ben Vizvary in the bottom of the inning to force extra innings, before the Eagles were able to pull the game out in the twelfth. The 12-inning game matches the longest postseason contest in the history of Emory baseball, along with back-to-back 12-inning games against Ferrum College during the 2007 South Regional.
The game started out as a pitcher's duel between Emory sophomore Hans Hansen and Marietta freshman southpaw Ian Luttrell, with neither team scoring a run through the first five and a half innings.
The Eagles finally broke through for the first run in the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. With one out, sophomore Wilson Morgan was hit by a pitch, and senior Brett Lake followed with a single, chasing starter Ian Luttrell from the game. After sophomore Brian Hernandez hit into fielder's choice for the second out of the inning, reliever Mitch McNabb walked sophomore Philip Maldari on four pitches to load the bases, and junior Dylan Eisner followed with a walk of his own to bring across the go-ahead run.
Hansen pitched into the seventh inning, leaving the game with a runner on second and one out. Sophomore Kyle Monk entered for Emory to face the three- and four-hitters for Marietta, inducing a fly out by OAC Player of the Year Ryan Hanahan for the second out, and striking out Chris Winpigler to end the threat.
Hansen's day ended with a no-decision, as the righty held Marietta without a run, while scattering six hits and four walks and striking out six batters.
Monk pitched a scoreless eighth and retired the first two batters in the ninth, but Mitch Geers would single to right to extend the game, and Hanahan followed with a two-run home run to left field, his 10th of the season, to give Marietta its first runs and lead of the game, 2-1.
Down to the team's final three outs, Maldari led the ninth off with a double, his 21st of the season to tie him for the second-most in a year in school history. With one out in the inning, Vizvary would tie the game with a base hit to right center, scoring Maldari and knotting the game at 2-2.
The game remained tied at 2-2 until the bottom of the 12th, with Monk shutting down the Marietta attack at the plate. He finished the game with a career-long 5.2 innings pitched, allowing four hits and striking out seven batters, while allowing just the two runs on the home run.
The Eagles were finally able to get to Marietta pitcher Christian Herstine, who threw three and a third innings on just a day's rest after starting the tournament opener for the Pioneers. Emory started the 12th inning with a bunt single from freshman Nick Chambers. Sophomore Chris Young laid down a sacrifice bunt attempt, but Herstine tried to get the lead runner out, and threw the ball into centerfield to put men on the corners with nobody out.
After an intentional walk to senior Wes Peacock loaded the bases, Herstine got Morgan to ground into a fielder's choice, retiring Chambers at the plate for the first out of the inning. With the bases loaded, the Marietta right jumped in front of Coble (who entered the game in the ninth as a defensive replacement for Lake) 0-2, but missed inside and hit Coble to force across the game-winning run.
Emory finished the game with seven hits and six walks, including a two-for-four performance for Lake. Monk picked up the win with an outstanding effort on Friday, improving to 4-2 for the year.
Herstine took the loss for the Pioneers, dropping to 6-5 in 2015, as Marietta ended its campaign with a 29-18 overall record.
Fans can follow all of the action tomorrow with live statistics and video, available from the official tournament website at http://www.piedmontlions.com/sports/2015/2/24/BSB_0224151343.aspx.