Young teams like William and Mary (17-14, 3-6 CAA) often struggle to find consistency. This weekend at James Madison, the College was consistent — but only in its losses. Tribe baseball dropped three games against the Dukes, losing its sixth game in a row after it had won eight out of its last 10 games.
Despite the disappointing weekend, Head Coach Frank Leoni remained positive.
“I think we competed really well,” Leoni said. “[James Madison] is a good team [and] a tough opponent.”
The Tribe’s best chance for a win may have been in the series finale on Sunday, after a double from senior designated hitter R.J. Archer gave the Tribe an early 1-0 lead. But the Dukes stormed back with four runs in the bottom of the second, as freshman starter Brett Goodloe gave up two homeruns.
The College answered in the top of the third, when junior second baseman Jonathan Slattery smacked his third homerun of the year, a two-run shot to right-centerfield which scored freshman centerfielder Ryan Brown.
Goodloe proceeded to quiet the Dukes offense, allowing one base runner over the next three innings. But the pitcher surrendered a double to start the sixth and was immediately pulled for freshman Matt Wainman, who loaded the bases. Wainman was replaced by sophomore reliever Jay McCarthy, who proceeded to give up a two-run double which tied the game at six.
McCarthy settled down over the next three innings, but ran into trouble in the bottom of the ninth with the score knotted at six.
The sophomore allowed a pair of one-out singles, putting runners on first and third. After intentionally walking the Dukes’ Trevor Knight, McCarthy snagged a comebacker off the bat of Matt Browning. He fired it to catcher Chris Forsten, who stepped on the plate and threw to first to complete the one-two-three double play, and move the game into extra innings.
The Tribe was unable to put the ball into play in the top of the 10th, going down on strikes in three consecutive at-bats. Sophomore leftfielder Stephan Arcure struck out looking to start the 10th on a call that left him arguing with the home plate umpire, who ejected the outfielder.
McCarthy held the Dukes scoreless again in the bottom of the 10th, but the Tribe was once again unable to plate a run in the 11th before McCarthy took the mound.
The righthander struck out the leadoff batter in the bottom half of the inning, his seventh of the afternoon, before allowing a single to JMU’s Matt Townsend.
Knight followed Townsend with an apparent inning-ending double play ball to third, but the Tribe was only able to get the lead runner at second. Knight made the College pay by stealing second and then, with two outs, McCarthy watched a bloop single fly over sophomore first baseman Tadd Bower’s head to give the Dukes the 7-6 walk-off victory.
“We just didn’t get the breaks we wanted,” Leoni said.
The College took an early lead in the second game of the series Saturday thanks to RBIs from Bower and Arcure, who finished three for four with three RBIs apiece. But the lead was short-lived, as the Dukes tagged freshman starter Brett Koehler for three homeruns and five runs in the bottom of the second inning.
James Madison tacked on another four runs in the fifth inning, knocking Koehler out of the game and extending the James Madison lead, 9-4.
The College would close the margin to three the next inning, with two runs on an Archer sacrifice fly and a Brown double. But the Tribe would not come any closer, falling 15-7.
Slattery failed to record a hit in the loss Saturday, snapping his 16-game hitting streak.
The Tribe came out swinging in the first game of the series Friday, scoring four quick runs. Brown, who led the team with three hits in the series opening game, and junior shortstop Derrick Osteen each reached base to start the game. Bower followed with a two-run double to right field, and Arcure blasted a homerun over the fence to put the Tribe up 4-0.
Junior starter Logan Billbrough got into a jam in the bottom of the third inning when, after allowing back-to-back singles to open the inning, the righthander gave up a three-run homerun to the Duke’s designated hitter Matt Tenaglia, cutting the Tribe lead to one.
After a double, a passed ball and a walk, Billbrough balked to score the runner from third and tie the game at four apiece. Billbrough was pulled for sophomore Matt Davenport with a man on second, as Davenport recorded the final out of the inning.
The Tribe went scoreless in the top of the fourth inning, and Davenport loaded the bases by yielding a single in the bottom of the inning with no outs. After a run-scoring double play, Davenport surrendered a two-run home run, stretching the Dukes lead to 7-4.
The Tribe responded in the top of the sixth, when Slattery extended his hit-streak to 16 games with a two-run homerun over the leftfield fence. Slattery’s blast cut the deficit to one run but the College was only able to produce one base runner over the final three innings, and lost the first game of the series, 7-6.
The Tribe has now lost six games in a row, and currently resides in ninth place in the CAA.
“We’ll get this ship turned around real soon,” Leoni said.