William and Mary started its regular season February 18, more than a month prior to Major League Baseball’s opening day. But at the start of March 31, when the first big league games of the 2011 season are played, the Tribe — 28 games into its season — will have one thing in common with all 30 MLB teams; a winning percentage.
On a soggy, cold Wednesday night, William and Mary picked up its eighth win in the past nine tries, beating Norfolk State for the second time this season 9-4. The win moves the Tribe to 14-14 — the first time the team has been at .500 since the season started.
“Tonight wasn’t our best effort,” head coach Frank Leoni said. “I felt like the concentration wasn’t there for nine innings … but we just want to get better every time we go out.”
Sophomore starting pitcher Matt Wainman had an excellent outing for the Tribe given the conditions, going five innings and allowing only one run and one hit, while striking out eight. The only thorn in his side was Norfolk State right fielder John Lynch, whose single in the third was the Spartans’ only hit off Wainman. Lynch also got Norfolk State on the board in the first when he walked, stole both second and third, and eventually scored on a fielder’s choice.
The Tribe wasted no time responding. In the bottom of the first, freshman third baseman Ryan Lindemuth and senior shortstop Derrick Osteen walked, and a bunt by junior left fielder Stephen Arcure led to a throwing error by Spartans junior catcher Chris Warren, which scored Lindemuth and put runners on second and third. After two strikeouts, senior designated hitter Jonathan Slattery was hit by a pitch to load the bases for freshman catcher Devin White, whose two-run single would eventually prove to be the winner.
“I tried not to think too much about it,” White, who went 2-3 with 3 RBI on the night, said. “Where I get into problems is where I guess.”
The College extended its lead in the third following singles by Slattery and junior first baseman Tadd Bower. White singled to score Slattery and advanced to second on the throw home. Sophomore right fielder Derek Lowe then doubled, bringing in two and extending the lead to 6-1.
Three singles in the sixth scored a run for the Spartans, but the biggest threat to the Tribe’s lead came in the eighth.
After an error and walk, Norfolk State shortstop Chris Joyce singled in a run, and when shortstop Kevin Curd was hit by a pitch, the bases were loaded with one out and the go-ahead run at the plate. It took two strikeouts by sophomore reliever John Farrell to get himself out of the jam and preserve the Tribe’s 6-3 lead.
“I think that was a huge wake-up call for us,” White said. “We were kind of just going through the motions.”
The Tribe put the game away in the bottom half of the inning, however. After a two-run single by sophomore center fielder Ryan Brown, a base knock by sophomore pinch hitter Jackson Shaver gave the College its eighth and ninth runs of the game.
“[The first, third, and eighth] innings were great,” Leoni said, referring to frames in which the Tribe put up three apiece. “The other five were a problem.”
The College will host conference-rival Hofstra in a three-game series starting tonight at Plumeri Park.