Baseball: Tribe crushes Lehigh in 12-2 home victory

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Matt McDermott. COURTESY IMAGE / TRIBE ATHLETICS

When 5’8” freshman infielder Matt McDermott was first recruited by William and Mary, his favorite saying was that size didn’t matter.

“I watch guys like Marcus Stroman and Dustin Pedroia in the big leagues,” he told nj.com just over a year ago. “It’s good to know that your whole life you were a foot shorter than everyone else and in the end, you work hard enough that you get to prove a lot of people wrong.”

That maxim seems to be working for McDermott in his first season with the College. He tallied multiple runs for the first time in 18 starts this season with two hits in the College’s 12-2 domination of Lehigh on Wednesday. That brings him to ten runs on the season, a stat in which he trails only core veterans junior Zach Pearson and senior Ryan Hall.

McDermott’s runs were just two in an explosion of offense for the College, as the Tribe (6-12) put Lehigh (6-9) down by seven runs before the visiting team was even able to get on the board. The scoring opened after sophomore starting pitcher Chris Farrell kept Lehigh off the board in the top of the first, leaving the Tribe to bat in the bottom of the inning with the score still open at 0-0.

A single from junior infielder Nick Butts and a double from junior infielder Colin Lipke got the two runners to second and third, but it was Hall that opened scoring with a single that forced an error out of Lehigh. Butts and Lipke came home on the error, bringing the score to 2-0. Hall finished out the inning by scoring on a groundout to bring the Tribe’s lead to 3-0 going into the second.

Although Lehigh got a runner to third in the top of the second, they were again held off the scoreboard. The Tribe capitalized on that by scoring two runs in the bottom of the second on another double from Lipke that sent Zach Pearson and junior outfielder Owen Socher home to bring the score to 5-0.

Lehigh, which had only connected on one hit in four innings, again were unable to get on the board before the bottom of the fourth, where the Tribe scored two more on a double from junior catcher Hunter Smith to pad their lead at 7-0.

Lehigh finally broke through in the top of the fifth, scoring their first run on what was only their second hit of the game against Farrell. They got one more past home plate before striking out, cutting the Tribe’s lead to 7-2.

That was as close as the Mountain Hawks would ever get to catching up to the College’s lead, as a strong performance from the Tribe bullpen limited Lehigh to a single hit in the last four innings. The Tribe continued to build on its lead as the game came to a close, getting hits from Lipke and Hall in the bottom of the seventh to bring the lead to 9-2 and then closing out the match with three runs in the bottom of the eighth on another double from Zach Pearson. After Lehigh failed to make a dent in the 12-2 lead in their last time at bat, the home team closed out the win on the familiar Plumeri Park diamond without having to play the bottom of the ninth.

Three players in addition to McDermott recorded multiple runs in the game, including Zach Pearson, Butts and Hall. Their scoring was due in large part to strong performances at bat from Zach Pearson and Lipke, who each tallied a game-high three hits. After winning pitcher Farrell started off with a strong five innings, sophomore Jamie Sara, senior Robert White, graduate Andrew Burnick and freshman Justin Pearson closed out the match in relief with just one hit allowed between the four. Between that strong pitching from the entire Tribe contingent and those solid showings from Zach Pearson and Lipke, the College was able to finish the day with a comfortable ten-run victory.

With Wednesday’s dominant showing, the College improves to 6-12 on the season and has won five out of its last nine games. It will hope to carry that momentum into its weekend series against East Tennessee State, which opens this Friday at Plumeri Park.