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FORMER CHIEF CHRIS SLIVKA AND THE EMORY EAGLES ARE HEADED TO THE DIVISION III WORLD SERIES

Sunday, May 18, 2014 • POSTED BY:  http://emoryathletics.com/

For the fourth time in the program's history and the first time since 2007, the Emory University Eagles, ranked 22nd in the Nation, will be headed to Appleton, Wisconsin to compete for the NCAA Division III Championship, after winning the South Regional Championship with a 5-2 victory over Bridgewater College in Demorest, Georgia on Sunday night.

The Eagles battled their way back through the losers' bracket, after dropping their second game of the tournament to Bridgewater.  Emory rallied off four-straight wins, defeating Rhodes College, Shenandoah and Bridgewater twice to win the Regional Championship.

"It's a great moment," said Emory Head Coach Mike Twardoski.  "I think the best part of it is the ten seniors we have on the team.  That is really the rally point for us.  We knew it was going to be a tough stretch, losing a game pretty early in the tournament, and we just didn't want [the seniors] to take off their uniforms this year… It's a great moment for Emory baseball."

Senior catcher Jared Welch was named the South Regional Most Valuable Player, after driving in a team-high seven runs with two doubles and two triples, and holding opposing base runners to just four steals on nine attempts over the six games.  Senior outfielders Daniel Iturrey and Brandon Hannon, junior pitcher Connor Dillman and freshman closer Kyle Monk each earned a spot on the all-tournament team.

"Our team is extremely unique in that everyone's role is the same," said Welch.  "From one through nine, our job is to get on base.  And after we get on base, the guy behind him has got to get on base as well… When you have nine guys on the field that are trying to do that, you put together some good wins."

The Eagles will face Baldwin Wallace College, winner of the Mid-Atlantic Regional, in the opening game of the World Series.  The game is scheduled for a 2:15 PM start on May 23rd at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton.

On Sunday, both teams' starting pitchers were working on short rest, with Emory Dillman earning the win over Rhodes on Wednesday with a 115-pitch effort, and Bridgewater's Nick Corbin picking up a victory over Birmingham-Southern on Friday with a 97-pitch outing.

A two-run single in the top of the second inning off the bat of Justin Peatock put Bridgewater out in front early, 2-0.  Emory responded immediately in the bottom of the frame, starting with back-to-back singles from Iturrey and Jared Kahn, to put runners on the corners.  The next batter, Welch, hit a ball to the wall in left-centerfield, but Bridgewater leftfielder Derrik Walling tracked it down, making a leaping catch to save an extra-base hit.  The play would score Iturrey from third, however, cutting the lead in half. 

The score remained 2-1 until the bottom of the fourth, when Kahn and Welch opened the inning with back-to-back walks, and freshman Philip Maldari drove them both in with a double in the left-centerfield gap, giving the Eagles their first lead of the game, 3-2.  Junior Wes Peacock later drove in Maldari from second with a two-out hit, putting Emory ahead by a pair.

Bridgewater would threaten against Dillman in the top of the fifth, putting runners at second and third with one out.  The right-handed pitcher and all-University Athletic Association (UAA) First Team selection extricated himself from trouble, however, striking out a pair of Eagles to end the frame and his day.  It was the second time in the game Bridgewater left the bases packed to end an inning.

Dillman scattered eight hits and five walks in the outing, holding the Eagles to a pair of runs and striking out eight over five innings and 115 pitches.  He picked up his second win of the tournament, and improved to 9-1 overall this season.

Emory took advantage of a pair of errors in the bottom of the fifth to add on a run.  Senior righty Matt McMahon entered the game in the sixth, and retired the side in order, including a pair of strikeouts.  After he allowed a leadoff hit to start the seventh, freshman Jackson Weeg (just two days removed from an eight-inning outing against Rhodes) picked off the runner, and induced a pair of groundouts to get out of the inning without any damage.  Weeg retired the side in order in the eighth, putting Emory three outs away from the Regional Championship.

Monk would close out the game in the ninth, earning his fifth save of the campaign, four of which came during the six tournament games.

Corbin took the loss for Bridgewater, dropping to 8-2 on the year.  Bridgewater closed out its campaign with a 36-14 record, while Emory improved to 34-11 with the victory.

"Nothing surprises me about this team," said Iturrey.  "Everyone has done their job, everyone has stepped up, exactly how we've expected them to.  We're capable of being a championship team."

"We are now to a point where we can do something in the College World Series," said Twardoski.  "This team can do some damage there, and I think we're at the peak of our playability right now."