Baseball: College wins two against Blue Hens with walk-offs

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March 30, 2010

1:16 AM

Sophomore reliever Matt Davenport’s arm had finally started to feel tired. He had thrown over 120 pitches for the first time this season, after already throwing roughly 60 pitches in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader against Delaware.

But in the second game versus the Blue Hens, with two straight losses to start conference play staring William and Mary (16-8, 2-1 CAA) in the face, Davenport would have gone as long as his team needed.

“I was wondering if they were going to take me out or not,” Davenport said after the Tribe’s 5-4, 12-inning victory. “I was really hoping they wouldn’t, which I’m glad they didn’t. For these guys, I would go out there 18 innings in a row if I had to.”

Fortunately for Davenport, the Tribe only needed six and a third innings to get the win after dropping the first game of the doubleheader 12-9. Davenport threw three innings in the first matchup before coming out of the bullpen in the sixth inning in the second ballgame.

“I told [the coaches] I was available after the first game,” Davenport said. “On the list in the dugout, my name was circled, which usually means ‘[use] just if you need to.’ But I told them I was good.”

And the Tribe needed him. Davenport came in with the College trailing 4-2, about to lose its second consecutive game to start the conference season. He proceeded to strike out a career-high 10 Delaware hitters while holding the Blue Hens scoreless until the bottom of the 12th inning when junior second baseman Jonathan Slattery came to the plate.

Slattery, who was named CAA co-player of the week Monday, went 10 for 12 over the weekend with three walks. But his two-out single to right centerfield with a runner on third base Saturday was his biggest hit of the weekend, giving the Tribe a 5-4 walk-off victory.

“I knew they were coming at me with sliders, so I was looking for something to drive,” Slattery said. “I saw a fastball in just long enough to get my hands in. It’s a great feeling. The guys worked so hard, it was nice just to get the [win].”

As fate would have it, Slattery would be on third base the next day with two outs and the score tied 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning in the rubber match of the series. This time the batter was freshman centerfielder Ryan Brown, who sent a flare down the right field line to give the Tribe the 4-3 victory and its second straight walk-off win.

It was the second walk-off single of the season for Brown, who singled to win the Tribe’s March 7 game against Seton Hall.

“I like to put myself in those situations,” Brown said. “You listen to LeBron James and he says he wants the ball in the last seconds. I try to want to be in that situation, and it just gives me more confidence to get the job done.”

A pair of defensive plays by senior catcher Chris Jensen set Brown up to be the hero, as Jensen recorded two putouts in the top of the ninth inning after taking a foul tip off his protective cup.

Jensen recorded the first out by catching a foul ball off a failed bunt attempt by Delaware second baseman D.J. Long. Then, with two outs and a runner on third, Jensen stopped a ball in the dirt, hustled back behind the plate to retrieve the ball and then ran back to the plate to tag the baserunner for the final out of the inning.

The play left Head Coach Frank Leoni impressed.

“I told the team after the game in the huddle, ‘One more thing real quick. Chris Jensen took a ball off the private area there in the ninth, sucked it up and made two plays to win the ballgame,’” Leoni said. “If Jensen doesn’t make those two plays, who knows what happens in the ninth inning.”

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