William and Mary took two out of three in this weekend’s series against Virginia Commonwealth, winning their first series since playing Hofstra at the beginning of April. The College (21-21, 11-10 CAA) won 4-2 Friday and 8-3 Saturday before losing 8-6 Sunday.
“Definitely a nice turnaround for us,” head coach Frank Leoni said. “We’re definitely still alive and kicking, and we’re looking forward to a tough week.”
The Tribe took a 3-0 lead in the third Friday on a sacrifice fly by junior first baseman Tadd Bower, an RBI groundout by senior second baseman Jonathan Slattery, and an RBI double by junior left fielder Stephen Arcure.
VCU trimmed the lead in the sixth with an RBI double and had a significant opportunity to come back in the eighth with runners on second and third and nobody out, but sophomore reliever Brett Koehler struck out two and induced a flyout to preserve the lead.
The Tribe added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI single by freshman third baseman Ryan Lindemuth to seal the win.
On Saturday, it was VCU that took the early lead on two RBI singles, but the Tribe introduced a rarely seen component of its offense Saturday: power. After Bower scored from third on an errant pickoff attempt, sophomore designated hitter Ryan Williams smashed a three-run home run to put the College on top.
The Tribe was then able to put the game away in the sixth when two scored on a VCU throwing error and Bower added two more with a home run.
“One of our coaches said this is the Tribe baseball he loves,” Williams said of the home runs. “It demoralizes the opponent.”
But the Rams came out Sunday determined to avoid the series sweep. VCU took a 4-0 lead in the first inning on two two-run doubles.
“If we had been able to execute a few more of our pitches, we would have been able to hold them to two runs instead of four, and that makes the difference,” Leoni said.
The damage continued in the third, when the Rams led off the inning with a solo home run and kept up their onslaught with three runs on RBI singles, giving VCU an 8-0 lead.
The Tribe’s offense had shown little life, but a solo home run by Slattery in the fourth got the team’s bats going. Arcure singled and Williams homered to bring the game to 8-3.
“Hitting’s contagious,” Williams said. “When a couple guys start hitting, we can fight back.”
In the sixth, Williams hit his second home run of the game to bring the game to 8-5. It was the fifth home run of the weekend for the College, an impressive number when compared to the team’s total of eight on the entire season.
The Tribe’s last opportunity came in the eighth, when an RBI single by sophomore right fielder Derek Lowe brought the College within two, but the Tribe couldn’t complete the comeback.
“We had our opportunities late in that game to not only tie, but potentially win it,” Leoni said. “We just weren’t able to get that big hit.”
The Tribe plays George Washington tomorrow in Williamsburg at 7 PM.