Fairfield centerfielder Ryan Furbeck deflected the sun with his glove, settled under the ball and made the catch. William and Mary (2-9) sophomore centerfielder Ryan Brown stopped his sprint around the basepaths, and suddenly the reality became clear in the dying afternoon sun.
After dropping its first five games of the season against Oklahoma and VMI, the Tribe fell in its series finale Sunday versus Fairfield, thus splitting its first home series of the season.
“It is a little discouraging,” head coach Frank Leoni said. “But I hope it’s to our advantage to help us later on down the road.”
The College dropped the final game of the series 4-3 Sunday despite receiving seven innings of work from sophomore starter Brett Koehler. Koehler allowed four runs – three of them earned – on nine hits, while striking out five Stag batters.
But the Tribe couldn’t capitalize on Koehler’s efforts, or two no-out, bases loaded situations at the plate. The College had the bases loaded in the bottom of the third and seventh innings, but only managed to score
one run in each of those frames.
A sacrifice fly from sophomore third baseman Ryan Williams in the third inning and an RBI-double play ground out by senior pinch hitter Derrick Osteen plated the only runs in those innings.
“It’s a little bit of a microcosm of our season, of how bad our offense is struggling at this point,” Leoni said. “We’re just not getting it done right now. Guys are pressing like crazy.”
The College also managed to split Saturday’s doubleheaders, winning the first game 14-2 before dropping the second contest 6-5.
Senior starter Logan Billbrough pitched eight innings in the first ballgame, allowing one run on four hits while striking out seven. Osteen led the offensive attack for the College, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored and four RBI.
Sophomore rightfielder Derek Lowe and freshman catcher Devin White also each had two hits.
The second game of Saturday’s doubleheader only lasted seven innings, magnifying the Tribe’s offensive struggles. Williams and senior second baseman Jonathan Slattery each managed two hits along with Osteen, but the College could not overcome an early 6-2 deficit.
The Tribe managed seven baserunners in the fifth and sixth innings combined, but were only able to score three runs.
“Guys are just not using their talent and instead are just trying to make it happen,” Leoni said. “There’s a little tension that is resulting in less than favorable results.”
Junior starter Cole Shain pitched four-and-two-thirds innings, giving up six runs on three hits in the loss.
Junior starter Matt Davenport helped the Tribe get off to a good start in Friday night’s series opener, as the preseason All-American candidate tossed eight innings of two-run ball to help defeat Fairfield 6-5.
Davenport allowed eight hits while striking out six, but the Tribe needed a two-run comeback in the ninth inning to tie the score at 3-3 heading into the 10th inning. The Stags scored two in the tenth off of sophomore reliever Matt Wainman, but a two-run RBI double by Williams in the bottom half of the inning helped the College take home the victory in what looked to be a promising start to the series.
Instead, the College is looking for answers as it gets set to take on No. 10 Virginia today.
“We discussed a lot of things [after the game],” Leoni said. “Just going out and playing baseball, not thinking too much and just letting your reactions take over.”