Baseball: College offense stalls in fourth straight mid-week losses
Mid-week matchups haven’t been kind to head coach Brian Murphy. Dating back to March 19, William and Mary has dropped five consecutive games played outside a series.
“It’s been a variety of things. Some pitching issues last week — this week it was more the execution of the offense,” Murphy said. “It hasn’t just been one thing … just different types of poor performances.”
Virginia Military Institute (18-13, 6-6 Big South) capitalized on such performances Tuesday, downing the College (20-12, 4-1 CAA) 5-1. Norfolk State (10-18, 6-5 MEAC) followed suit Wednesday, leaving Plumeri Park with a 4-3 win.
Junior pitcher Bryson Kauhaahaa took the mound Tuesday, lasting three innings in what Murphy saw as one of the right-hander’s strongest starts of the season. Kauhaahaa gave way to sophomore right-handed pitcher Aaron Fernandez, who allowed two earned runs in an inning of work.
While Fernandez took the loss, freshman right-handed pitcher Nick Brown surrendered three earned runs on four hits over the remaining four innings.
Murphy, though, pointed to a deficient offense as the key to the decision. Only four players registered hits, led by junior right fielder Nick Thompson with three.
“Yesterday was a little different type of game,” Murphy said. “We didn’t do much offensively at all, as far as the kind of quality of our swings or anything like that.”
Entering Wednesday, the College looked to snap the trend of mid-week slides against in-state opponent Norfolk State. Despite a solid pitching effort, the Tribe’s offense proved ineffectual again.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Daniel Powers featured for a little over four innings, allowing a pair of runs on four hits. Freshman right-handed pitcher John Yoest and senior right-handed closer Kevin Casey each pitched two innings in relief, giving up a run between a pair of hits.
“Yesterday, we just didn’t put it all together with pitching and hitting and today, we pitched really well and we seemed to hit well … that’s baseball,” sophomore catcher Ryan Hissey said. “I’m not worried — we’ll get it together for [James Madison].”
Hissey led the College’s offense with a run, run batted in and two hits. Aside from Hissey and freshman third baseman Ryder Miconi — who registered three hits and a run — the Tribe offense managed six hits.
“They played better than us, certainly. I thought they made some nice plays. I was a little frustrated with our inability to execute offensively,” Murphy said. “We gave them some free bases with walks and wild pitches. I thought they capitalized and beat us tonight.”
The loss extends the streak of mid-week losses. With a road series against Colonial Athletic Association foe James Madison on the docket for this weekend, the College will wait until Tuesday’s match against Old Dominion for a chance to snap the skid.
For Hissey, though, the season’s ups and downs pale in comparison to the eventual end goal — conference play.
“Last week was a little pitching, this week it’s a little hitting,” Hissey said. “That’s baseball and as long as you put it together at the right time — going into conference play — that’s the most important.”
Whether clawing through a mid-week slump or preparing for a conference series, Hissey stressed the importance of every game.
“We try to approach every game with the same focus. Sometimes it happens, you lose some focus,” Hissey said. “Coach Murph always preaches to treat every game the same — the same focus, the same intensity. That’s baseball, but to keep bouncing back … that’s the biggest thing.”
The College looks to rally from its two-loss week and improve its 4-1 start in conference play as it travels to Harrisonburg for a three-game series. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m. Friday.
“Those guys are always a good test. They can really swing the bats,” Murphy said. “They’re a tough team to play against — they make you work for everything. We’ll have to be very good to beat those guys.”