After a nail-biting 2-1 loss at home to Richmond a little over three weeks ago, William and Mary turned the tables on the Spiders by picking up its third win in a row with a 9-8 victory in extras Wednesday.
The back-and-forth, ten inning game was won on a solo home from senior designated hitter Jonathan Slattery in the top of the tenth inning, giving the Tribe (17-15, 9-7 CAA) its eleventh win in its last thirteen games and split the season series with the cross-fall line rival.
“It was definitely a back and forth, up and down, roller coaster kind of game,” head coach Frank Leoni said. “We found a way to pull it out.”
The Tribe got on the board in the second when sophomore right fielder Derek Lowe singled to score junior first baseman Tadd Bower.
Then in the bottom of the third, Richmond took advantage of a lack of control by sophomore pitcher Brett Goodloe, who hit the first two batters of the inning. After a single scored a run, Goodloe walked one more to load the bases for senior right fielder Mike Mergenthaler, whose grand slam seemed to put the game out of reach by giving the Spiders a 5-1 lead.
But the Tribe came right back in the top of the fourth to tie the game at 5-5 when Richmond’s pitching temporarily lost the strike zone.
Consecutive walks taken by Bower, sophomore left fielder Ryan Williams and sophomore second baseman Kevin Nutter loaded the bases with nobody out. A sacrifice fly by Lowe scored Bower, after which sophomore center fielder Ryan Brown walked to load the bases again.
Freshman third baseman Ryan Lindemuth then walked in another run before the runners advanced on a wild pitch, scoring Nutter. Senior shortstop Derrick Osteen then walked to load the bases for a third time, and a sacrifice fly by Slattery scored Brown. A single by freshman catcher Devin White loaded the bases once more, but the Tribe was unable to do any more damage, ending the top half of the inning having scored four runs on just one hit.
But Richmond would take the lead back in the bottom of the frame on a two-run single by shortstop Mike Small.
The momentum swung back to the College in the seventh when Bower led off the inning with a double. A double by junior pinch hitter Stephen Arcure then scored Bower, and an RBI double by Lowe knotted the game at 7-7. The Tribe would then take the lead after Lowe stole third and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Brown.
“We’ve just been putting that little sense of fear in the infielders’ minds,” Leoni said of the bunt. “We’re not just going to go up there and play station to station baseball.”
But after a Richmond sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh the two teams were even again.
The College had the chance to seal up the game in the eighth with runners on first and second and one out, but couldn’t make anything of it. A scoreless ninth sent the game to extra innings, and Slattery — who had popped out with the bases loaded in the third — capitalized with the game-winning home run in the top of the tenth.
“The game has a funny way of turning around, and you always seem to get that one last chance,” Leoni said. “He made the most of it.”
In the bottom of the tenth, sophomore reliever Brett Koehler came on to replace sophomore pitcher Matt Wainman, who hadn’t allowed an earned run in 4 1/3 innings of work, making him the winning pitcher and moving his record to 2-2.
Koehler promptly struck out two in the tenth, closing out the road win for the College.
“Those two guys have been outstanding for us,” Leoni said of Wainman and Koehler.
Next the Tribe will take on Longwood in a home-and-away series this weekend.