It was a big game for William and Mary Friday, and the Tribe knew it. After being swept 3-0 last weekend by its first Colonial Athletic Association opponent, the College (10-16, 1-3 CAA) had a chance to improve its conference record Friday with a home matchup against conference opponent North Carolina-Wilmington (17-8, 2-2 CAA). The Tribe took that chance, putting five runs on the Seahawks in the first two innings to start the match off strong and eventually down UNCW 7-3, decisively taking the first game of this weekend series.
The College was the first team on the board Friday, as senior outfielder Ryan Hall got on base with a triple before a fly out from freshman infielder Matt McDermott sent him easily to home, putting the Tribe up 1-0.
UNCW was ready with an answer in the top of the second, when a double from their second batter got a runner home, tying the game at 1-1 with only one out on the board. With the pressure of the tie score looming, starting pitcher redshirt sophomore Chris Farrell threw a wild pitch that allowed the Seahawks runner to get to third, leaving UNCW just 90 feet away from taking an early lead with still just a single out on the board. Farrell wasn’t about to let that happen, however. He gathered himself to strike out the second batter, allowing one more walk before forcing the final UNCW batter to line out, ending the inning with the score still tied at 1-1.
The College then took charge of the game in the bottom of the second inning. The inning started with freshman infielder David Hogarth at bat, who hit a double to spark a flurry of offense. Hogarth’s double rattled the UNCW pitcher into walking junior outfielder Owen Socher before sophomore outfielder Brandon Raquet’s ground out got Socher and Hogarth to second and third base, respectively. The Tribe was one run away from taking the lead, but junior infielder Zach Pearson did one better — he hit a single down the line that allowed both Socher and Hogarth to skid past home, allowing the Tribe to take a 3-1 lead with just one out on the board.
The inning wasn’t anywhere near over yet. During the next at-bat, while the UNCW pitcher was throwing to senior outfielder Ryan Hall, Zach Pearson managed to steal second. Hall was then allowed a walk to first, putting two Tribe runners on base once more.
McDermott’s ground out put two outs on the board, but, once again, put College runners on second and third. And, for the second time that inning, the Tribe got both of those runners home; junior infielder Colin Lipke forced a throwing error that let Hall and Zach Pearson get home, allowing the Tribe to take a decisive 5-1 lead.
The College managed to hold the Seahawks off the board for the next four innings, only allowing them four hits in those four desperate opportunities to ease the deficit. Sophomore pitcher Jamie Sara picked up his third win of the season in the fifth and sixth innings, making him 3-3 on the season.
The Tribe found a couple of insurance runs when, in the bottom of the sixth, a Zach Pearson single and a McDermott ground out got Socher and Zach Pearson home to put the Tribe up 7-1.
The Seahawks retaliated with two runs in the top of the seventh to cut the College’s lead to 7-3, but that was as close as they would come to making up the deficit. When a ninth-inning comeback attempt against sophomore closer Wade Strain fell short, the Tribe finalized its first CAA victory of the season in a 7-3 win against UNCW.
The College will continue its battle for its first conference series victory of the season tomorrow, when it takes on Game 2 of the weekend series here at Plumeri Park.