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DEMOREST, Ga. -- Fourth-seeded Bridgewater has sent Shenandoah University into the loser's bracket of the NCAA Division III Tournament South Regional with a 5-3 victory over the Hornets Friday night in the winner's bracket final.
Shenandoah (33-10) now must win a noon contest today against the winner of the Rhodes (Tennessee) vs Emory (Georgia) game and then beat Bridgewater (36-12) twice to win the title.
Should the Hornets force an if-necessary game with two victories tomorrow, the regional championship contest will be played Sunday at noon.
Friday's contest, much like the other five games these two teams have played this season, was a close affair.
Bridgewater took the early lead with one run in the third before SU tied it in the fifth.
After the Eagles scored two runs in the sixth, junior Michael Paul brought the Hornets back in dramatic fashion with a two-run home run to right field.
Paul's homer, his ninth of the season, was his first hit in the regional.
Bridgewater finally took the lead for good with two runs on two hits in the eighth.
Tyler Hoffman reached on a one-out infield single off of senior Andrew Zarobila (2-1), causing SU skipper Kevin Anderson to turn to right-handed closer Cameron Lundmark.
Lundmark induced an infield pop fly for the second out before Nick Fulk drew a walk.
Consecutive RBI singles followed, giving the Eagles the lead for good.
Shenandoah had the tying run on base in both the eighth and ninth, but was done in by a fielder's choice in the eighth and a game-ending double play in the ninth.
Zarobila, the third of four pitchers for SU on the night, took the loss after allowing the one run on two hits in 1 2/3 innings of work. He struck out three.
Michael Scimanico started and allowed three runs on four hits and six walks. He struck out five.
Corbin Lucas continued his hot tournament with a 3-for-4 evening with Paul, Dan Powers and Lew Johnson all registering two hits.
Robert Gallet (5-1), the Eagles starter, earned the win. He threw the opening seven innings and allowed three runs on eight hits and one walk against six strikeouts.
Dillon Via posted the save with a scoreless ninth.
Earlier on Friday, Shenandoah picked up a 5-4, 11-inning victory over Birmingham-Southern in the Hornets' second game of the South Regional, which was postponed on Thursday due to inclement weather.
Senior Vince Claudio (8-1) went the distance for SU against Birmingham-Southern, striking out 10 and allowing the four runs (two earned) on just four hits and four walks.
Shenandoah scored the game-winning run in the 11th as sophomore Lew Johnson drew a leadoff walk against reliever David Bourbonnais (6-2) and was sacrificed to second by Corbin Lucas.
A Billy Arens groundout moved Johnson to third, and after Bourbonnais walked pinch-hitter Andrew Creamer, the submariner uncorked a wild pitch on a 2-1 count to Michael Paul that allowed Johnson to race home with the winning run.
In the 11th, Claudio retired the Panthers (35-12) in order on a fly to right, a groundout to short and a groundout to second.
The Hornets took the early lead with two runs in the second before Birmingham-Southern answered with three in its half of the frame and one more in the third.
Claudio then settled in and allowed just four runners after the third inning and retired 19 of the final 21 hitters he faced. The lone batters to reach base did so on an error in the ninth and a one-out walk in the 10th. After issuing that walk, Claudio struck the next two batters out.
Johnson, in addition to scoring the game-winning run, had a two-run single up the middle in the second to get SU on the board.
Junior Daniel Freshley tied the game for the victors with a two-run, two-out double to left in the sixth.
Freshley and Dan Powers both had two hits to lead the Shenandoah offense.
Lucas reached base three times in five at-bats from the leadoff spot.
The loss eliminated Birmingham-Southern from the tournament.