APPLETON, Wisconsin — The University of Southern Maine Huskies baseball team’s run through the elimination bracket came up short Monday afternoon, as the Emory University Eagles banged out 16 hits to take a 15-3 victory in the 2014 NCAA Division III Baseball Championship Tournament at Fox Cities Stadium.
The loss eliminated the Huskies from the eight-team, double-elimination tournament with a 2-2 mark, fourth place, ending their season with a 37-15 record. The Huskies dropped their opening game of the tournament to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Friday before beating Salisbury University, Maryland, and Baldwin Wallace University, Ohio, in elimination games.
Emory, 38-12, went on to eliminate St. Thomas 10-7 later in the day and advanced to Tuesday’s championship round against UW-Whitewater, needing two wins over the Warhawks to claim the national title.
Sophomore Paul Merolla, 4-1, was the beneficiary of the Eagles’ 16-hit attack. The 7-foot right-hander pitched a complete game, allowing three runs on nine hits and one walk. He did not strike out a batter and had two double plays turned behind him.
Senior Jared Kahn was one home run shy of hitting for the cycle, going 3 for 4 with four RBIs to lead the Eagles’ offense. Junior Wes Peacock added a home run and four runs scored. Rookie Senior Chris Bernard went 3 for 4, and freshman Paul McDonough had a pair of singles for the Huskies. Sophomore starter Shyler Scates, the first of eight USM pitchers used in the game, was tagged with the loss.
The Eagles jumped on Scates in the opening inning for four runs. Three straight singles produced the first run. After a sacrifice bunt move the runners to second and third, Kahn lashed a double off the glove of a diving USM infielder to bring in both runners.
After USM made a pitching change, Kahn stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly from senior Jared Welch.
Southern Maine cut the deficit in half in the third inning. With no outs and the bases loaded, senior Forrest Chadwick was hit by a pitch to force a run across. A big play for Emory occurred when the next batter, senior Matt Verrier, lashed a line drive was caught by Kahn for an unassisted double play.
The Huskies would get another run on Bernard’s single, but the possible big inning did not materialize as Merolla escaped further damage getting a fielder’s choice.
Peacock hit a solo home run in the fifth off USM junior reliever Alex Tobey. That would be the only run Tobey would give up in fourth innings of solid relief work.
The Eagles tacked on an unearned run in the sixth inning and blew the game open with five runs in the seventh.
The Huskies added a run in the eighth. Chadwick, in his final career at bat, doubled into the right field corner. He was replaced by sophomore pinch runner Nick DiBiase, who scored when Bernard singled to right.
With one out in the ninth, USM head coach Ed Flaherty went to the mound and in a tribute to the five seniors on the field — Verrier, Bernard, first baseman John Carey, third baseman Troy Thibodeau and pitcher Logan Carman — substituted for them to an acknowledgement from the USM fans. The last of USM’s seven seniors, pitcher Nathan Veilleux, came on for Carman to get the final two outs.