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Baseball: College swept at home by defending CAA champions UNC-Wilmington

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April 11, 2016

11:23 PM

Entering its weekend series at Plumeri Park against defending Colonial Athletic Association champions North Carolina-Wilmington, William and Mary found success when its offense put up strong run totals. In all 15 wins so far this season, the Tribe (15-16, 4-4 CAA) has scored at least six runs, plating 10 or more in 13 of those victories. But the College produced run totals of one, four and one against the Seahawks (18-10, 4-3), losing all three games and falling to fifth place in the CAA.

The Tribe’s offensive production in Friday’s opener began and ended in the bottom of the first. Junior right fielder Charles Ameer drew a walk to start the inning and promptly stole second following a fly out. After another out, a pitch hit senior first baseman Charley Gould, putting runners on first and second for sophomore second baseman Cullen Large. Large came through with an opposite field single, scoring Ameer and giving the College the early lead.

“After I found my legs, it was pretty easy to get the breaking ball over there, and that really set the tone for getting everything else in there,” Brown said. “I made a change with my change-up midweek in the bullpen, and it worked out really well tonight. It was playing a lot better than it had earlier in the season, and everything was better with the three-pitch mix.”

The game quickly turned into a pitchers’ duel, both starters locking in after rocky first innings. Junior right-hander Nick Brown overcame three first-inning walks to keep UNC-Wilmington scoreless for the frame, proceeding to throw six innings while allowing two runs on five hits and six walks, striking out 11. Brown spoke later about what was working for him on the mound.

“After I found my legs, it was pretty easy to get the breaking ball over there, and that really set the tone for getting everything else in there,” Brown said. “I made a change with my change-up midweek in the bullpen, and it worked out really well tonight. It was playing a lot better than it had earlier in the season, and everything was better with the three-pitch mix.”

The Seahawks finally broke through against Brown in the sixth, right fielder Casey Golden leading off with a solo home run before left fielder Steven Linkous’ base hit brought home the deciding run. The College could not find an answer and UNC-Wilmington celebrated a 2-1 road victory.

The Tribe once again got a strong start Saturday, this time from freshman southpaw Bodie Sheehan. He pitched seven strong innings, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk, fanning eight Seahawks.

“[That was] certainly his best outing of his career up to this point,” head coach Brian Murphy told Tribe Athletics. “I thought he commanded his fastball really well. I thought he did a good job of attacking their hitters, and he pitched from ahead in the count, so it was certainly a great start for him.”

A reliable force at the back end of the Tribe bullpen for most of his career, senior right-hander Joseph Gaouette struggled on Saturday and was ultimately handed the loss. Taking over for Sheehan in the eighth inning with the two-run lead still intact, Gaouette surrendered five runs over the next two innings, five hits and three wild pitches proving a destructive combination.

With UNC-Wilmington ahead 2-0, the College exploded with four runs in the bottom of the sixth, three coming from a costly Seahawk error. Junior first baseman Tim Hoehn came to bat with the bases loaded and sent a hard ground ball down the third base line. The throw to first sailed wide off the bag, enabling all three Tribe runners to score with Hoehn stopping at third. Freshman shortstop Kyle Wrighte brought Hoehn home the next at bat, singling to center field to put the Tribe ahead 4-2.

A reliable force at the back end of the Tribe bullpen for most of his career, senior right-hander Joseph Gaouette struggled on Saturday and was ultimately handed the loss. Taking over for Sheehan in the eighth inning with the two-run lead still intact, Gaouette surrendered five runs over the next two innings, five hits and three wild pitches proving a destructive combination. Down 7-4, the College brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but Gould flew out with two runners on base to end the game.

“Confidence in baseball, particularly in the batter’s box, is a really fickle thing,” Murphy told Tribe Athletics. “We’re a lot more of the team we’ve been for 30 games than we were for the last three. We need to keep giving ourselves chances, we need to get back to work and we’ll get that done.”

UNC-Wilmington completed the sweep on Sunday, holding the Tribe to just one run on seven hits while plating six of their own. Junior right-handed pitcher Dan Powers took the loss for the College, going six innings and giving up four runs on eight hits and a walk.

The Seahawks took the initial lead early in the ballgame, scoring a run in the first, second and third before sealing the win with a three-run seventh. Gould got a run back for the Tribe with a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth, his third of the season, but it was not enough to prevent the College’s fourth defeat in a row.

“Confidence in baseball, particularly in the batter’s box, is a really fickle thing,” Murphy told Tribe Athletics. “We’re a lot more of the team we’ve been for 30 games than we were for the last three. We need to keep giving ourselves chances, we need to get back to work and we’ll get that done.”

The Tribe finishes up the homestand Tuesday and Wednesday, taking on in-state foes Old Dominion and Virginia Commonwealth, respectively. First pitch for both games is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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  • Josh Luckenbaugh

Flat Hat Sports Editor Josh Luckenbaugh '18 is a sophomore from Leesburg, VA, majoring in English.