Baseball: College takes two from Delaware

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March 29, 2011

1:16 AM

William and Mary took two of three at Delaware this weekend to win its third consecutive series in a key conference set.
The Tribe (13-14, 7-5 CAA), which has now won seven of its last eight games, dropped the first game 6-2 before taking both ends of the Saturday doubleheader, 6-0 and 4-3. The wins moved the College one game from reaching the .500 threshold for the first time this season, and leave the team in fifth place in the conference.
“The team is starting to develop a little bit of an identity,” head coach Frank Leoni said. “We’re starting to put some things together, but we still have a long way to go.”
On Friday, Delaware junior starter Eric Young shut down the Tribe’s bats all day, holding them to just two hits and two runs — neither of which were earned — in six and two-thirds innings. Delaware took a lead it would never relinquish in the first inning on a solo home run by first baseman Steve Ulaky. After two walks and a single loaded the bases in the third on junior starter Matt Davenport, Delaware scored on a single, walk, fielder’s choice and sacrifice fly to extend its lead to 5-0, burying the Tribe early.
The Tribe got two runs back in the fourth inning. An error by Blue Hens second baseman D.J. Long allowed junior first baseman Tadd Bower and sophomore left fielder Ryan Williams to score, bringing the College within shouting distance, down 5-2.
But the Tribe’s offense fell silent after that, and double by Long in the bottom of the fourth gave the Blue Hens one more run to give Delaware the final 6-2 margin. From there, Davenport settled down, tossing a lengthy eight innings. But the righty eventually took the loss after giving up six earned on five hits and three walks, dropping his record to 2-3.
“It seemed like on Friday the flow of our batting order was a little off,” Leoni said.
The first game of the Saturday doubleheader would feature a slightly-altered top of the lineup, but the star was senior pitcher Logan Billbrough, who had a career day on the mound. Billbrough, who earned CAA Co-Pitcher of the Week honors — his second-such award of the season — for the effort, threw a complete game shutout, walking two and allowing just one hit. Leoni contended that Delaware’s second-inning single should have been scored as an error.
“He was really, really sharp,” Leoni said. “His secondary stuff was OK, but he had enough on his fastball to really beat them. Very encouraging to see that out of him.”
The Tribe needed only one run to take the game, but put up plenty more in the fourth.
Senior shortstop Derrick Osteen, junior designated hitter Buster Gean and senior second baseman Jonathan Slattery all singled to load the bases for Bower, who brought everybody home with the Tribe’s first grand slam of the season. The College added two more in the fifth inning when Slattery hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring Lindemuth, and Long made a throwing error, scoring Osteen. That would be more than enough to supplement Billbrough’s dominance, as the Blue Hens never even even threatened to score.
“We talked about trying to be a little more aggressive early in the count,” Leoni said. “We did a much better job of just being aggressive and putting balls in play.”
The second half of the doubleheader was the close game previously unseen in the series. Delaware took the lead on a groundout RBI in the first, but the Tribe tied it up in the second when Bower walked, advanced to third on two wild pitches by Blue Hens starter Chad Kuhl, and scored on a sacrifice fly by junior catcher Chris Forsten. Delaware took the lead again in the third on a two-run homer by senior left fielder Pat Dameron.
The Tribe cut the deficit in half in the sixth on an RBI double by junior pinch hitter Stephen Arcure, and in the eighth, Lindemuth singled and Osteen doubled to get the winning run into scoring position. A sacrifice by Slattery tied the game and a single by Bower drove in the winning run.
“There was a lot of fighting and execution that had to be in place to give us the lead,” Leoni said.
The Tribe returns to Williamsburg to play Norfolk State Wednesday before hosting Hofstra in a three-game series this weekend.

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