William and Mary was no match for CAA-leading UNC-Wilmington this weekend, as the Seahawks swept the Tribe in Wilmington, N.C., sending the team back to Williamsburg in sixth place in the conference.
The College lost 7-4 Friday before getting an 11-2 beatdown Saturday, and finally suffering another 7-4 defeat Sunday. The Tribe (18-20, 9-9 CAA) lost its first series since it was swept by James Madison over a month ago and has now lost four straight. The sweep dropped the Tribe from third to sixth in the conference, a significant fall since only the top four squads will qualify for NCAA regionals.
“UNC-Wilmington exploited every weakness we had,” head coach Frank Leoni said. “They beat us, they outplayed us, they outcoached us. They dominated.”
The Seahawks jumped out to an early lead in the first inning Friday. A two-out rally netted UNC-W three runs on a two-run single and an RBI double.
In the top of the fourth, the College cut the deficit to 3-2 when senior second baseman Jonathan Slattery was hit by a pitch and junior first baseman Tadd Bower hit his third home run of the season. After a single in the fifth gave Wilmington one more run, the Seahawks broke the game open in the sixth on another two-out rally. A single put runners on first and second, and two consecutive doubles scored three more runs to extend the lead.
The Tribe had chances to bring the game back, but was unable to make anything of its opportunities.
In the sixth, the College came up empty after having runners on first and third with no one out, and in the top of the seventh, the Tribe loaded the bases with a single by junior catcher Chris Forsten and walks by sophomore center fielder Ryan Brown and freshman third baseman Ryan Lindemuth. Senior shortstop Derrick Osteen walked to bring in a run, but the Tribe couldn’t capitalize any further on what would be its last real opportunity when freshman catcher Devin White and Slattery both struck out to end the inning.
Sophomore left fielder Ryan Williams’ solo homer in the eighth — his team-leading fourth — was a bright spot, but it was the last gasp the team had on the day.
“Everything we did just snowballed,” Leoni said. “There wasn’t much of anything going on.”
The teams returned to action Saturday, but the Tribe’s pitching was nowhere to be found as the team suffered its worst defeat since Virginia handed the team a 9-0 drubbing March 1.
Wilmington took the lead in the second when a fielding error and a steal of home got the Seahawks on the board.
An RBI double in the fourth stretched UNC-W’s lead to 3-0, and the Seahawks used the next two innings turn the game into a laugher.
In the fifth, the Seahawks hit a one-out double, and following an intentional walk, the team doubled its lead with a double, a single, and a groundout RBI.
The Tribe’s pitching and defense faltered once again in the sixth, when UNCW hit a single and drew a walk before scoring on a throwing error. Another RBI groundout added to the Seahawks’s lead, and a two-out double put the game at 9-0.
UNC-W then loaded the bases in the eighth and hit a two-run single to cap the offensive onslaught.
With the game long out of reach, Bower singled and Lindemuth hit a sacrifice in the ninth to prevent the shutout.
The College played a more competitive game on Sunday but still was unable to stop Wilmington’s bats.
The Tribe took its only lead of the entire series in the second when singles by Lindemuth and junior right fielder Stephen Arcure led to a double-steal and a throwing error that scored Lindemuth. Arcure scored on a sacrifice fly by sophomore second baseman Kevin Nutter, and Brown then singled, stole second, and came home on a single by Osteen.
Wilmington would tie the game in the third on a three-run homer before taking the lead for good in the fifth on a solo home run and a bases-loaded single to make the game 5-3.
The Tribe once again had a chance to do a significant amount of damage in the sixth, but couldn’t muster all the runs it needed. Slattery led off the inning with a walk, Lindemuth singled, and Arcure walked to load the bases with nobody out. Forsten hit a sacrifice fly to score Slattery, but the Tribe wasn’t able to score any more following a bunt and a groundout.
Wilmington then scored the final two runs of the game in the bottom of the sixth on a bases-loaded single, and the Tribe wasn’t able to score despite getting runners into scoring position in each of the last three innings.
Going forward, Leoni said the team will focus on revamping every aspect of its game.
“You name it, we need to work on it,” he said. “We just need to get this thing turned around.”