It was the same dance to a different tune for the College of William and Mary (13-19, 4-8 CAA), as the Tribe dropped the first two games of their weekend series against the University of North Carolina-Wilmington (20-12, 7-5 CAA) before winning the finale Sunday 14-8 in Wilmington.
The Tribe has lost the Friday and Saturday games of weekend series’ three times this season, each time coming back to win the finale on Sunday. Easter Sunday, it was senior starter Jeremy Neustifter who saved the series for the Tribe, allowing six runs on four hits through six innings.
“Jeremy threw the ball well. There was a real tight strike zone Sunday and he did a good job staying with it, pitching downhill enough and locating his slider just enough to keep hitters off balance,” Head Coach Frank Leoni said.
The Tribe reached the halfway point of the conference season tied for ninth and need to make up ground to be one the six teams that make the CAA tournament.
“We’ve played half the games now and obviously we have to start winning some series,” Leoni said. “We knew the first four weekends were going to be rough-goings and I think we’ve done just enough to survive and keep our heads above water. But now we’ve got to start winning some games.”
Leoni will need more offensive performances like the one he got from his team Sunday. The Tribe scored 14 runs on 11 hits, the most runs the team has scored since the first weekend of the season. Senior designated hitter Rob Nickle’s 4-4, four RBI performance from the cleanup spot combined with senior leftfielder Jeff Jones’ 2-4 with two RBI game to jumpstart an offense averaging 1.4 runs-a-game less than its opponents this season.
“I thought we swung the bats pretty well on Saturday also, but we couldn’t put any hits together,” Leoni said. “Sunday we just did a better job of putting hits together.”
Junior righthander Kevin Landry could have used some run support Saturday, as he held the Seahawks to one hit through the first four frames of the ballgame. But a high pitch count raises all fastballs, and on his 82nd pitch of the game Landry gave up a three-run homerun to Seahawk Robbie Monday to make the score 4-1 in the fifth.
UNCW would go on to win 8-3 and give Landry his team-leading fifth loss of the year.
“We didn’t put enough hits together. He kept us in the game long enough,” Leoni said. “He just gets to that point where he gets a little tired, he gets a little wild … he walks a couple guys, then someone comes up and pops a home run off him.”
Friday’s lineup was never given Saturday’s opportunity, as the Seahawks scored at least one run in each of the first five innings en route to a 10-4 victory. Excluding sophomore lefthanded pitcher Tyler Truxell, who came in on relief in the eighth, no Tribe pitcher gave up fewer than three runs Friday night.
Senior third baseman Tyler Stampone and Nickle each had two hits, while Jones doubled down the left-field line in the fourth inning. The three seniors supplied all of the Tribe’s five hits in the ballgame.
The College returns home Wednesday to take on the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore at 7 p.m.
The Hawks enter the matchup with the Tribe boasting a 10-26 record overall and an 8-4 mark in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. First baseman Brian Chaikowsky leads UMES in hitting, batting .358 with a .493 on-base percentage.