After three uneven performances against George Mason, William and Mary hoped to make a strong statement against in-state foe Richmond Tuesday. The College strode up to Pitt Field, and after surrendering an early lead, appeared headed for collapse after the sixth inning.
Enter freshman Michael Katz. With the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning, Katz took Richmond pitcher Jolmi Minaya deep. Katz’s grand slam came at a crucial juncture, allowing the College to blow open the game and take the lead for good. As a result, the Tribe went on to squash the Spiders 9-5 in Richmond.
The College improved to 17-10 overall, while the Spiders dropped to 13-9.
Junior righty Brett Koehler kept his perfect record intact Tuesday, moving to 3-0, while junior reliever Ryan Williams allowed zero hits in more than two innings of relief. Coincidentally, Koehler won the battle of undefeated pitchers, as Richmond’s Andrew Blum fell to 3-1 on the season.
The College utilized quick bursts of offense to overtake the Spiders. Katz paced the Tribe by going 2-for-5 with five RBIs and two home runs. Senior catcher Sean Aiken also performed well, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
After a scoreless first inning, the Tribe offense exploded in the second inning. Williams scored senior left fielder Stephen Arcure thanks to a single, and Aiken drove in freshman right fielder Josh Smith to put the College up 2-0. Williams and Aiken scored later in the inning to put the Tribe up 4-0.
The Spiders remained scoreless until the bottom of the third inning. Richmond’s Matt Zink scored after Mike Small’s single with two outs. The Spiders cut in to the Tribe lead slightly, moving the score to 4-1.
After a scoreless fourth inning, the Tribe added another run. Katz hit a solo homer to left center, giving the College a 5-1 lead. Richmond responded in the bottom of the fifth inning, as third baseman Joey Vechhione and JB Gadd both scored for the Spiders after being batted in.
The Spiders then slowly continued to cut into the College’s lead in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Richmond’s Phil Rubarsky hit a home run to right center, bringing the Spiders to within one at 5-4.
With Richmond slowly creeping back into the game and threatening the Tribe lead, Katz and the College batters came alive in the top of the seventh. To begin the inning, junior second baseman Kevin Nutter was plunked by a pitch and advanced to first. Brown then singled, occupying first and moving Nutter to second. Sophomore third baseman Ryan Lindemuth also was hit by a pitch, loading the bases.
In response to Minaya’s shaky performance that inning, the Spiders sent in pitcher Ray Harron. Katz stepped up to the plate for the College, and as Harron sent his pitch hurtling toward home plate, Katz swung, connected, and sent the ball flying over the fence. Katz’s grand slam put the Tribe up 9-4, a lead they would never relinquish.
The Spiders would muster just one more run. In the bottom of the seventh, Zink hit a single up the left side, sending Gadd home. Gadd’s score provided the final score, 9-5.
Neither team managed to score in the final two innings of the contest, as both bullpens held their own. Williams retired the first two Richmond hitters in the ninth inning, walked one and then Zink flied out to end the contest.
The College will look to continue its winning ways when it hosts CAA rival Towson for a three-game series beginning Friday.