Emory Baseball Falls to D-II North Georgia, 11-7

The Emory University baseball team took a two-run lead on two occasions against NCAA Division II North Georgia College and State University, but ultimately could not hold onto the lead, falling 11-7 to Saints in Dahlonega, GA on Tuesday night.

The loss was the third straight for the Eagles, who fell to 25-15 on the season with the loss.  The Saints improved to 26-16 with the victory.

After the first two Eagles were retired in the top of the first inning, Jonathan Reilly kept the inning alive with a single through the left side of the infield, and Patrick Riebsame followed with his team-leading eighth home run of the season to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead.

The eight home runs this season for Riebsame are the most by an Eagle since the 2002 season, when Kyle Foster notched eight home runs of his own.  The senior is now tied for the fifth-most home runs in a single season in the program’s history, and his 13 career home runs during his two seasons with the team tie him for the sixth-most in school history.

North Georgia wasted little time responding, scoring two runs off Emory starter Paul Schwendel in the bottom of the first on an RBI fielder’s choice and a run-scoring single, but Schwendel would get a strikeout with the bases loaded to end the Saints’ threat in the frame.

After the Eagles left the bases loaded in the top of the second, the Saints took the lead with a double from Derek Hooper and an RBI single from Troy Snitker.  In the third, Chad Sage added a solo home run to put North Georgia on top 4-2.

In the top of the fifth, the Eagles would get back on top with some timely hits and good base running.  Ryan Jones led the inning off with a single, advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt from Brandon Hannon.  After Reilly was hit by a pitch and Riebsame was walked to load the bases.  Junior Kevin O’Connor followed with a sacrifice fly to score Jones from third, and then a double from Cohn brought Reilly home to tie the game.  The next batter, Daniel Iturrey, hit a ground ball to shortstop that should have ending the inning, but a costly error from Alan Fredricksson scored Riebsame and Cohn, giving the Eagles a 6-4 lead.

Once again, the Saints would answer right back in the bottom of the frame, loading the bases with nobody out.  Schwendel struck out Sage for the first out of the inning, but then walked Brad Hall and threw a wild pitch to allow the game-tying runs to score.  He worked out of the jam, however, getting the final two outs of the inning on a strikeout and a ground out to second, ending his outing with the score tied at 6-6.

North Georgia would break the game open in the sixth, scoring five runs off Emory reliever Connor McGuiness to take an 11-6 lead over the Eagles.  Freshman Alexander Castaneda would allow two of McGuiness inherited runners to score, but would not allow an additional runs to score in his inning and two thirds of work, striking out two batters.  Sophomore Mike Bitanga contributed a scoreless eighth inning in relief.

Emory would pick up a run in the eighth inning on an RBI single from Jones that scored Iturrey, but the Eagles went down one-two-three in the ninth inning to end the game.

Andrew Cohn finished the game two-for-four, and with three games remaining in the regular season is now two hits shy of 200 for his career.  Jones added a two-hit game as well for Emory.  The Eagles were outhit by the Saints 18-8 in the contest.

With three games remaining in the Eagles’ 2011 regular season, the team will now turn its attention towards a key weekend series at Chappell Park against regional opponent Methodist University, with games at 3:00 PM on Friday and 1:00 PM on Saturday.