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ETSU's Aaron Maher
Photo Courtesy of Todd Drexler
Samford, ETSU both earn walk-off wins
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 05/26/2017

G10: No. 6 seed Samford 5, No. 1 seed Mercer 4

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Freshman Ayrton Schafer doubled off the Green Monster in left field to score Branden Fryman with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning as sixth-seeded Samford walked off in an elimination contest against No. 1 seed Mercer on Friday, 5-4, at the Southern Conference Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases at Fluor Field.

The Bulldogs (33-25), who have now eliminated both the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds (Western Carolina), move on to face either No. 7 seed ETSU or No. 9 seed VMI, who are playing Friday's final contest, at approximately 7:20 p.m. The winner and Samford will play Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

In a contest that hadn't seen any scoring from either team since the fourth inning, Samford knocked off the league's regular-season champion with two outs in the final frame. Fryman reached on an infield single with two down, and Schafer pounded All-SoCon reliever Robert Broom's 0-1 offering high off the wall in left. The ball ricocheted back toward the infield and left fielder Jackson Ware's throw home was not nearly in time.

Mercer (39-17) led twice in the contest, but Samford had an answer both times.

The Bears took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third on JT Thomas' two-run single, but the Bulldogs countered with three runs in the bottom half on Schafer's two-run double down the left-field line and Austin Eden's RBI single up the middle.

Mercer reclaimed the lead the following inning on Ryan Hagan's two-run homer, but Samford knotted things up at 4 on Anthony Mulrine's solo blast in the bottom of the frame.

That's where the score would stay until the bottom of the ninth, as Mercer's pitching staff of Ryan Askew, Christian Vann and Broom limited Samford to just three hits from the fifth through eighth innings, and Bulldog closer Wyatt Burns worked around allowing three hits in the eighth with a big assist from left fielder Kevin Williams Jr.'s seed to nail David Posas at the plate on Trey Truitt's single.

Fryman finished 3-for-4 with a run scored for Samford, which also got a two-hit, three-RBI game from Schafer. T.J. Dixon and Mulrine also had two hits in the game.

Thomas was 3-for-4 with two RBIs to pace Mercer, while Truitt and Alex Crotty had two hits each at the bottom of the order.

Broom (8-2) was the pitcher of record in a walk-off loss in the tournament for the second straight season. He was charged with one run on three hits in 2 2/3 innings of work, striking out three.

Burns improved to 5-1 with the win, as he did not allow a run on four hits and a walk in two innings of action.

The finish keeps Samford alive to make the final for the fifth time in seven years and denied Mercer of just its second 40-win season in school history.


G11: No. 7 seed ETSU 12, No. 9 seed VMI 11

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Aaron Maher delivered a walk-off RBI single to cap ETSU's second ninth-inning rally of the tournament as the seventh-seeded Bucs stormed past No. 9 seed VMI in Friday's nightcap at the Southern Conference Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases at Fluor Field.

ETSU improves to 29-28 and will face No. 6 seed Samford on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in an elimination game. VMI, which became the first 9 seed to win at least two games in the tournament since Wofford in 2007, sees its season end at 24-34.

Two days after stunning second-seeded Western Carolina with a five-run ninth, the Bucs were at it again in a win-or-go-home contest Friday. Maher, who had a two-run double in the ninth and picked up the save in the win over the Catamounts, was again one of the heroes against the Keydets, as his fourth hit of the night was a one-out single to right to score Chris Cook with the winning run.

VMI had scored five straight runs to take an 11-9 lead late in the contest, but the Bucs had one more rally in them in the final frame. Jammer Strickland reached on a two-base error to lead things off, and one out later, Hunter Parker doubled to left to score Strickland. Cook followed with a double to right to score Parker with the tying run, setting the stage for Maher's game-winner.

The Keydets had seemed poised to continue their improbable run through the tournament after a four-run seventh gave them the lead and the late momentum. Matt Dunlevy had the big blow in the frame when his line drive to center went all the way to the wall for a bases-clearing triple that tied the game at 9. Josh Hollifield followed with an RBI groundout against a drawn-in infield as the Keydets pushed ahead.

VMI added on in the eighth as Collin Fleischer capped his monster night with an RBI double that made it 11-9. Fleischer also drilled a three-run homer as part of the Keydets' five-run third and finished the night 2-for-4 with four RBIs.

Down 6-2 in the fourth, ETSU rattled off seven unanswered runs to move ahead. After pulling within a run with two in the fourth inning, the Bucs got back-to-back homers from Christian Bailey and Blake Rowlett in the fifth. Hagen Owenby added another round-tripper the next inning, with his two-run shot making it 9-6 ahead of VMI's late push.

The teams combined for 35 hits on the night, with ETSU rapping out 19 and VMI 16.

An addition to Maher's 4-for-6 showing, the Bucs got three hits each from Rowlett and Cullen Smith. Four other ETSU players had two hits each.

For VMI, Hollifield and Peyton Maddox had three hits each.

Dillon Cate (1-1) earned the win with one scoreless inning of relief, while Matthew Eagle (4-5) took the loss after allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits in 2 2/3 innings. Neither starter made it through four innings.

The Southern Conference Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases continues Saturday at noon, when No. 3 seed UNCG and No. 4 seed Furman meet with a spot in Sunday's title game on the line.


May 23 (Tuesday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 1: #9 VMI 8, #8 The Citadel 0

May 24 (Wednesday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 2: #4 Furman 13, #5 Wofford 3 (7 innings)
Game 3: #1 Mercer 11, #9 VMI 6
Game 4: #7 ETSU 8, #2 Western Carolina 6

May 25 (Thursday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 5: #3 UNCG 6, #6 Samford 3
Game 6: #9 VMI 6, #5 Wofford 5 (10 innings)
Game 7: #6 Samford 6, #2 Western Carolina 1
Game 8: #4 Furman 6, #1 Mercer 1

May 26 (Friday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 9: #3 UNCG 6, #7 ETSU 4
Game 10: #6 Samford 5, #1 Mercer 4
Game 11: #7 ETSU 12, #9 VMI 11

May 27 (Saturday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 12: #4 Furman vs. #3 UNCG 12 p.m.
Game 13: #6 Samford vs. #7 ETSU 3:30 p.m.
Game 14: Winner Game 13 vs. Loser Game 12 7 p.m.

May 28 (Sunday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (ESPN3)
(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 15: Winner Game 12 vs. Winner Game 14 12 p.m.
^Game 16: Winner Game 15 vs. Loser Game 15 40 minutes after Game 15

^ if necessary

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