After falling in the Friday opener of their weekend series against conference-foe Hofstra, William and Mary came back with a vengeance over the weekend, stomping the Pride by a combined 18 runs in the final two games of the series, putting the Tribe (16-15, 9-6 CAA) above the .500 mark for the first time this year and into fourth place in the CAA.
The team has now won 10 of its last 12 meetings with Hofstra, and has an astounding .777 winning percentage over its last 18 games. In a conference that most speculate will not receive an at-large bid to the regional portion of the College World Series, the top four finishers in the conference will qualify, making the College’s fourth place standing significant. Still, the Tribe has 15 conference games remaining on its schedule, including a three-game set against third-place UNC-Wilmington.
The series kicked off Friday in a game that resembled a pitcher’s duel until the ninth inning, when some unforced errors by the Tribe and timely hitting from the Pride culminated in a game-clinching four run inning for Hofstra.
Entering the ninth, junior pitcher Matt Davenport was cruising, having allowed just one earned run — two total — in the first eight innings. The Tribe scored in the first — when senior second baseman Jonathan Slattery singled to drive in junior designated hitter Stephen Acrure — and then in the fifth when junior shortstop Derrick Osteen’s sacrifice fly scored sophomore right fielder Derek Lowe, who had reached on a Hofstra throwing error.
With the game tied at 2-2, Davenport returned to the mound for the top of the ninth. After getting the first Pride hitter of the inning to fly out, Davenport walked first baseman Jared Hammer. Hofstra second baseman Logan Davis then singled, and Hammer moved to third on a throwing error by sophomore center fielder Ryan Brown. The single marked the end of the night for Davenport, as head coach Frank Leoni called on sophomore reliever John Farrell to take the ball.
But Farrell wouldn’t fare any better, allowing the winning run to score on a wild pitch, hitting a Pride batter and giving up a single and a double. All of a sudden what had been a 2-2 game was a 6-2 game, and the College went down in order in the bottom half of the inning.
But while the Tribe could have been demoralized by the disastrous ninth inning the night before, the team came back Saturday seemingly determined to do the demoralizing, and essentially ended the game with a seven-run third, capped by a two-run homer from sophomore left fielder Ryan Williams.
From there, senior pitcher Logan Billbrough dominated, who extended his scoreless-inning streak to 20 with a masterful performance. Billbrough threw seven shutout innings, striking out ten while keeping the Pride to four hits and three walks. A two-run fourth and a three-run seventh secured a 12-1 win for the College.
The rubber match of the series on Sunday was only slightly more competitive than the second game.
Hofstra jumped out to a 1-0 lead before the college lineup ever stepped up to the plate. Freshman designated hitter Devin White then tied the game with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first. The Pride once again put up a one-spot in the second frame, giving Hofstra a 2-1 lead that would last through three and a half innings.
In the bottom of the fourth, however, the College’s bats erupted for a one-out, five-run rally. Freshman third baseman Ryan Lindemuth, Osteen, Slattery and Acrure all had RBIs as the five-hit inning once again broke the game open early.
While the Tribe’s junior pitcher Cole Shain didn’t make it out of the fourth himself — finishing with three and two-thirds innings pitched and two earned runs — the College’s pitching would flourish from the fifth on, as sophomore pitcher Brett Koehler turned in another masterful relief performance, picking up his fifth save of the year by tossing four scoreless innings, striking out five and allowing just three hits. A four-run eighth inning for the Tribe sealed the series win as the College scored the 10-3 victory.
The College now returns to non-conference play, travelling to play Richmond Wednesday.