Baseball: Master of their Dominion

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April 20, 2010

4:00 AM

The road has been less than kind to William and Mary this season, what with the Tribe losing all but one conference game on the road this year.

In the friendly confines of Plumeri Park, well that’s a completely different story.

The College (21-14, 6-6 CAA) won its fifth home series of the season this weekend, sweeping Old Dominion (16-24, 4-8) on the strength of the arms in its bullpen and the hitting of sophomore first baseman Tadd Bower.

“Tadd got the pitches he was looking for, and he didn’t miss them today,” Head Coach Frank Leoni said. “He almost had a third home run, just missing one. It’s critical that we get him going, and hopefully we can keep him going for the stretch run.”

Bower hit two homeruns in the Tribe’s 7-6 walk-off win Sunday, the first a two-run shot off Monarchs starter Ben Tomchick in the third inning. While the sophomore’s first homer was impressive, his second was awe-inspiring, a moon shot which cleared the second row of cars in the parking lot behind the road directly beyond the right field fence.

“The second one was a bomb,” Bower said. “I even walked a little bit on the second. He had thrown a first pitch changeup for a ball and had been missing with his offspeed, so I knew I was going to get a fastball. I just wanted to make sure I didn’t miss it.”

Junior pitcher Logan Billbrough came on in relief of freshman starter Brett Goodloe in the fourth inning and proceeded to give up one run over five-and-a-third innings to earn his fourth victory of the season.

The win was especially sweet for Billbrough, who had been taken out of the starting rotation just before the start of the series. Frustrated but not defeated, the junior focused on reestablishing his changeup coming out of the bullpen, a role he filled last season.

“Of course I was a little upset [about moving to the bullpen] because I wanted to start,” Billbrough said. “But I knew I was going to get the ball eventually this weekend in a key spot. I have come out of the bullpen before, so I knew that coming out of the bullpen, I had to be ready to go.”

Freshman reliever John Farrell turned in a similar performance on Saturday, striking out seven Old Dominion hitters in four innings to help preserve a 9-5 victory.

The Tribe also received significant contributions from the bottom of its lineup, as sophomore catcher Chris Forsten reached base three times with three walks and senior left fielder R.J. Archer drove in two runs with an RBI triple.

Forsten also produced in the Tribe’s 11-6 victory Friday night, going 2-for-4 with two RBI in the eighth spot in the order. Bower went 2-for-3 with a triple and three RBIs, as sophomore Matt Davenport, making his first start of the season, went six innings for the College to earn his team-leading sixth win.

The Tribe faces Longwood this Tuesday and VMI Wednesday, before heading on the road once again this weekend to face Hofstra. For Leoni, who has seen his young team struggle on the road this season, Hofstra represents a chance to turn the corner as the conference playoffs loom ever closer.

“We have to find a way to be consistent,” Leoni said. “We just have to get better on the road. Obviously every game is critical no matter where we play at this point. Some of these teams we play over the next four weeks are some of the teams we’ll be battling with for one of those last two [conference] playoff spots.”

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