Whatever momentum William and Mary had coming off a three-game sweep of conference-rival James Madison last weekend quickly halted when the Tribe fell to Norfolk State Wednesday, 3-1.
The timely hitting that played such an important part in the College’s three wins in Harrisonburg escaped the team against the Spartans, as the Tribe (15-8) stranded runners on third base in four different innings, mustering just one run on nine hits.
Junior starting pitcher Brett Goodloe didn’t allow a run, but he was removed after just one-and-a-third innings, having walked two.
After setting the Spartans (6-12) down in order in the first, the righty walked the first hitter of the bottom second, who then took second base on a passed ball and moved over to third on a bunt. With a man on third, Goodloe plunked the next hitter and walked another to load the bases. Sophomore reliever Matt Houston then came on to replace Goodloe but the Tribe would get out of the third unscathed. Senior catcher Chris Forsten caught the Norfolk State runner napping on third, picking him off before Houston got Mikey Bruno looking on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
The Spartans finally got on the board in the third. A lead off single followed by a double put two men in scoring position with nobody out. Houston got the next hitter to fly out to shallow right, but Norfolk State’s Cameron Day then grounded out to third, scoring the runner and giving the Spartans a 1-0 lead.
After a lightning-induced delay, head coach Frank Leoni gave the ball to junior pitcher Brett Koehler. Still working back from a hand injury he suffered about a month ago, the righty stifled the Norfolk State bats for two-and-a third innings, striking out four and allowing just one base runner.
Senior reliever Jay McCarthy took over for Koehler to start the sixth and continued to keep the game close, pitching scoreless sixth and seventh innings while the Tribe’s bats remained dormant.
The Spartans tacked on two insurance runs in the eighth, which would ultimately make the difference.
Junior reliever John Sheehan took the ball and quickly worked his way into trouble with a lead-off single and a wild pitch that moved the runner to second. Sensing the need to hold it to a one-run game, Leoni replaced Sheehan with junior reliever John Farrell, but the righty couldn’t do much better. A walk, a bunt and two singles later, the Spartans held a decisive 3-0 lead heading into the top of the ninth.
The Tribe’s bats finally came to life in the ninth. Sophomore third baseman Ryan Lindemuth led off with a double and senior designated hitter Tadd Bower followed with a single, moving Lindemuth to third. Freshman first baseman Michael Katz then grounded to the second baseman, who flipped to the shortstop to get Bower out at second as Lindemuth scored, bringing the College within two. After senior left fielder Stephen Arcure singled to right, moving Katz to third and putting the tying run on base, Norfolk State turned to lefty Richie Salter, who put an abrupt end to any comeback hopes, striking out junior shortstop Ryan Williams and senior pinch hitter Sean Aiken to secure the win for the Spartans.
The College will look to rebound in an important conference-series with George Mason this weekend. The three-game set will kick off Friday.