BRIDGEWATER, Va. - The bottom of the eight inning proved to be magical Saturday afternoon for the Bridgewater College Eagles.
The Eagles scored four runs in the bottom of the eight in the opener to erase a 7-5 deficit and take a 9-7 victory. The deficit was 8-5 in the second game as the Eagles tallied five times in the bottom of the eighth to win 10-8.
The victory could be the start of what the Eagles hope will be a late-season playoff push. The two victories pushed the conference record to 6-10 and keeps the team's playoff hopes alive.
Bridgewater took advantage of a key Wasps' error to score three runs in the bottom of the second to take the early lead in the opener.
Jacob Talley led off the inning with a single, stole second base and moved to third on a single by JT Creed. Matthew LaPrade walked to load the bases with no outs and a single by Brandon Poole scored Talley for a 1-0 lead. E&H went to the bullpen and Toby Robson retired Austin Batten on a line drive to right for the first out. Chris King then hit a grounder to second for what should have been a routine, inning-ending double play. Hunter Jeffries fielded the grounder and flipped to shortstop Ross French for the force at second, French made a strong, accurate throw to first, well ahead of King reaching the bag, but the throw glanced off the first-baseman's glove and two runs scored to put the Eagles ahead 3-0.
Emory & Henry erased the deficit with a five-run outburst in the fourth. The Wasps put together six hits to go along with an Eagles' error to take the lead. Zach Smith's two-run single and Logan Forster's two-run double were the key blows.
Two runs in the top of the sixth put the Wasps ahead 7-3, before the Eagles started their comeback with two runs in the bottom half of the sixth inning.
With one out in the sixth, Poole reached on an error and Batten followed with a single. King followed with a two-run double to pull the Eagles to within 7-5.
The Eagles still trailed by two entering the bottom of the eighth. King led off and was hit by a pitch and Kenner Berry followed with a single to center. Brett Jones put both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. After Bailey was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Talley singled to left, scoring King to pull the Eagles to within a single run. Creed then put the Eagles ahead with a two-run double to the gap in right-center making the score 8-7. LaPrade chased Creed home with a single to put the Eagles on top 9-7.
Jordan Showalter came on in the ninth and, after giving up a leadoff single, the lefty retired the next three batters to nail down the save.
Bridgewater finished the opener with 13 hits with Poole, Kenner Berry, Talley, Creed and LaPrade each accouting for two base hits.
Ryan Mason came out of the pen and provided 2.2 shutout innings of solid relief to pick up the victory.
Emory & Henry jumped out to a quck 6-0 lead in the second game and held the advantage until the eighth.
Bridgewater trailed 7-2 heading to the bottom of sixth, but the Eagles got back into the game with one swing of the bat.
Bailey and Talley led off the sixth with singles, putting runners at first and second. Talley was out on a force play at second on a grounder by Creed, leaving the Eagles with runners on the corners and one out. LaPrade then turned on and inside pitch and launched a long homer over the rightfield fence to pull the Eagles to within 7-5.
Ben Sexton hit his second homer of the game for the Wasps in the top of eighth, putting the visitors up 8-5 and setting the stage for Bridgewater's dramatic rally in the bottom of the eighth.
Talley was hit by a pitch to lead off the eighth and he moved around to third on Garrison Wright's one-out double. LaPrade walked to load the bases and Batten walked to force home a run, making the score 8-6. King then singled to left-center, scoring LaPrade and Wright to tie the score at 8-8. With runners at first and third, the Eagles executed the safety squeeze as Batten scored on Poole's bunt to give the Eagles a 9-8 lead. Bailey then lined a single to right-center, chasing home King to make it 10-8.
The Eagles then went to the bullpen for Johnny LaVoie to pitch the ninth. Leadoff batter Smith reached on an error, bringing the potential tying run to the plate. Forster hit a grounder up the middle where Talley fielded the gounder, stepped on second and made the throw to first for the big double-play. LaVoie then struck out C.J Martinez to end the game and finish off the sweep for the Eagles.
Andrew Berry, pitching just one day after the death of his brother and Eagles' honorary team member Wesley Berry, turned in a clutch long relief effort to give the Eagles a chance to come back. Berry worked 3.2 scoreless innings, allowing just three hits. He struck out one and did not walk a batter.
Kyle Jones gave up the solo homer to Sexton in the top of the eighth, but retired the next batter for the third out of the inning and picked up the win on the mound.
LaPrade, Bailey and Wright each finished with two hits to lead the Eagles 10-hit effort in Game 2.
Bridgewater returns to action Wednesday when the Eagles travel to Lexington to play Washington and Lee, the first-place team in the conference. Game time is set for 4:00 p.m.