Five-run tenth inning lifts the College over Longwood a day after falling to Liberty
Tribe 3, LIBERTY 13
The Tribe fell victim to a steep early deficit from which it could not recover Tuesday, falling 13-3 to visiting Liberty University.
Sophomore starting pitcher Tyler Truxell struggled, exiting after only two innings while surrendering eight runs on eight hits. The southpaw yielded a first inning run on an RBI groundout, before suffering through a seven-run second inning, punctuated by a two-out grand slam.
Offensively, the Tribe’s potent lineup was stifled by an impressive outing from Liberty lefthander Steven Evans, who took a no-hitter into the sixth inning to keep the College at bay.
The Tribe managed to manufacture three late-inning runs, as junior rightfielder Robbie Nickle recorded a two-RBI single in the seventh inning before junior centerfielder Paul Juliano drove in an additional run in the ninth.
Despite the late success, the early margin proved too difficult to overcome as the squad was dealt only its fourth home loss of the season.
TRIBE 13, LONGWOOD 8 (10 innings)
A day later at Longwood University, the tables were turned as the Tribe’s bats awoke early, striking for six runs through three innings in support of sophomore starting pitcher Cody Winslow.
On the mound, Winslow was nearly perfect through five innings, allowing only one hit before tiring in the sixth as the Lancers posted five runs to get back into the game. The Tribe then took a one-run lead into the bottom of the ninth inning, yet Longwood was able to pull even in the final frame, lacing an RBI double off senior reliever Pat Kantakevich to send the game into extra innings.
In the top of the 10th, junior third baseman Tyler Stampone notched a two-out, two-run double to push the Tribe ahead before junior first baseman Mike Sheridan blasted a two-run home run for extra insurance. Junior centerfielder Ben Guez extended his hitting streak to a team-high 28 games with a third-inning homerun as the Tribe improved to 26-12 overall, victors in 10 of its last 12 games.
This weekend the squad will host defending CAA Champions Virginia Commonwealth University to begin a crucial month-long stretch of games leading into the CAA tournament. Tribe Head Coach Frank Leoni will keep his team focused in the weeks leading up to final exams, a time that is traditionally difficult for the Tribe. The coach cited the academic pressures of the last several weeks of classes as a significant factor in his squad’s play, as players seek to balance both work and baseball.
“A lot of it is going to be up to what these guys do, how they handle the load in the next few weeks,” Leoni said. “We’re going to try to keep the intensity at practice to a minimum, give them as much time to breathe as we possibly can, but, be that as it may, we just have to find a way to persevere under the circumstances.
“There’s not really an easy answer, we just have to fight our way through.”