On a day when the weather could not make up its mind, Virginia Military Institution (6-12) had no problems decisively topping William and Mary 6-2 in the College’s (12-7) fifth game in six days.
Not much went right for the Tribe, as it failed to score in the first five innings. The Keydets were not in much better shape until third baseman Ray Lopez scored in the third inning off right fielder Brandon Angus’ two-out double, giving VMI a one-run advantage. The College would remain behind for the rest of the game as VMI ran away with the win.
“I thought they outplayed us in pretty much every phase of the game,” head coach Jamie Pinzino said. “I thought they swung it better than we did; I thought they pitched it better; I thought they played better defense; I thought they ran the bases better.”
The College’s pitching struggled more than usual, with sophomore pitcher J.T. Castner (1-1) recording his first loss of the season and three earned runs over the course of six innings. Pitching improved after the sixth, especially after junior pitcher John Sheehan put up two strong innings, allowing no earned runs with two strikeouts. Freshman pitcher Mitchell Aker wrapped up the game, allowing one earned run and one strikeout.
“I thought J.T. was pretty good,” Pinzino said. “I think what hurt him a little bit was command of his secondary pitches. … As the game went along, they were able to sit on his fast ball a little more.”
Offensively, the Tribe struggled to get started. Hits were scattered across the second half of the game, but the Tribe rarely threatened to score.
The Tribe, unable to capitalize on its efforts, went 2-for-8 in situations with a runner in scoring position. In contrast, the Keydets went 5-for-11.
Senior first basemen Kevin Nutter went 2-for-4 at the plate and scored a run, while senior designated hitter Jackson Shaver followed with a hit and a run scored. Senior center fielder Ryan Brown and junior second basemen Ryan Lindemuth each recorded a hit and a run batted in.
In the top of the fourth, catcher Matt Winn smashed a single to bring the Keydets’ lead to 2-0. Then, Lopez drove in VMI’s third run of the contest on a two-out double into left field, bringing the lead to 3-0.
The Tribe finally countered the offence in the bottom of the fifth. After the Keydets scored two runs in the top of the sixth, Shaver hit a line-drive single to get himself on base. Facing a 1-2 count, Nutter belted a single that drove Shaver to third base. After Shaver scored off a groundout, Lindemuth hit a single that drove Nutter home, bringing the deficit to 5-2.
“We certainly swung it better as the game went along,” Pinzino said. “We gave ourselves a couple chances, but when you don’t play well and you don’t put consistent at-bats together throughout the game, you rely on one or two opportunities where you need a key hit.”
The Tribe’s best opportunity came in the bottom of the seventh. Poised to make a run, junior left fielder Willie Shaw started the inning off with a walk. Freshman catcher Ryan Hissey followed with a single before senior shortstop Ryan Williams struck a masterful bunt down the third base line to load the bases with just one out. The Tribe was poised to strike and get back into the contest.
However, the next two at-bats saw a groundout that caught a runner at home and a strikeout to end the seventh inning.
“We had our one chance really; I think it was in the seventh inning,” Pinzino said. “We had two poor at-bats in a row, and we just didn’t give ourselves enough opportunities to win the game.”
In the ninth inning, VMI scored one more run as Drew Bryan’s single sent Lopez home, giving Lopez his second run of the game. Lopez had two runs batted in and went 3-for-4 for the game.
Next up for the Tribe is the start of Colonial Athletic Association play, as the College travels to Delaware Friday. First pitch is at 3 p.m.