The Eastern Mennonite baseball team opened the 2012 season Saturday, playing a doubleheader at North Carolina Wesleyan in Rocky Mount, NC. Despite temperatures in the low 50s, cloudy skies and a blustery wind made for a chilly day. The men had a successful start, capped by a 9-1 outburst to earn a split.
NC Wesleyan 5, EMU 2
In game one, the Royals jumped on the board in their first at-bat of the year. Freshman Bryan Melendez (Lansdale, PA/Christopher Dock) led off with a double to right. He took third when Dylan Smith (Sterling, PA/Park View) reach on a two-out error. Smith was subsequently picked off first base, but he stayed in the pickle long enough for Melendez to touch home.
The Battling Bishops took the lead in the bottom of the second with a pair of runs. But EMU came right back in the third.
Chris Rodriguez (Miami, FL/Pace) led off with a walk and scored when Melendez smacked his second double. Joshua Martin (Crozet, VA/Western Albemarle) sacrificed Melendez to third, but a pair of infield outs ended the frame with the score tied at 2-2.
North Carolina Wesleyan strung together three hits in the fifth to plate three runs and go back on top. The men then got two runners on in the sixth, but a pair of fly balls ended the threat.
Melendez walked to lead off the Royal’s final chance in the seventh, but a double play emptied the bases and cut down the rally.
Casey Harlow (Louisa, VA/Louisa County) took the opening day start and took the loss. He gave up only six hits, but allowed five runs (four earned) while striking out four. Freshman Austin Marzullo (Shippensburg, PA/Shippensburg) struck out two in his one inning.
Melendez had a successful debut, reaching base in all four of his trips to the plate and factoring in both of EMU’s runs. He finished with two doubles and two walks, scoring one run and driving in the other. Smith and Brad Billings (Selinsgrove, PA/Selinsgrove) had the other two of the men’s four hits.
EMU 9, NC Wesleyan 1
The Royals were in control in the nine-inning nightcap. Justin Rodriguez (Miramar, FL/Pace) laced a two-run, two-out single in the men’s first at-bat, then brought in the first run of a three-run rally in the third by getting hit with a pitch.
The Battling Bishops scored their lone run on a two-out single in the fifth, but EMU put up back-to-back two-spots in the 6th and 7th. Melendez shot a two-run long ball to right to provide the final runs on the team’s first homerun of the year.
Eastern Mennonite had 10 hits in the second game, and junior transfer Daniel Stanley (Varina, VA/Varina) scattered five hits over seven innings in his EMU debut. He struck out six. Ryan Henschel (New Market, VA/Stonewall Jackson) provided two inning of scoreless relief.
Melendez finished 2-5 with three runs and a pair of RBIs from his homer. Smith had three hits including one double.
Justin Rodriguez finished with a pair of hits and four RBIs. Sophomore Jonathan Estrada (Miami, FL/Doral Academy) scored three runs.
The Royals, now 1-1, return to Harrisonburg for their home opener on Wednesday. Mary Washington will come in for a single game at 3:00pm.