Baseball: After winning opener, Tribe narrowly defeated twice by Dukes

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JAMIE HOLT / THE FLAT HAT

After opening a home series against James Madison with a 7-1 win Friday, William and Mary fell in two-straight games as the Dukes (20-17, 4-8) downed the Tribe (21-14, 5-7) in two low-scoring losses, 3-1 and 5-3. 

GAME 1 (FRIDAY, APRIL 12) 

In a rare decision for the College’s pitching rotation, one Tribe pitcher stayed on the mound for all nine innings of Friday’s contest. Junior pitcher Wade Strain pitched a complete game Friday, throwing for nine innings and holding the Dukes to just three hits and one walk while forcing seven batters to strike out. 

While Strain held the Dukes off the board until the final inning, the Tribe got on the board early. The second frame started with a lead-off walk for senior infielder Zach Pearson, before a junior first baseman Matthew Trehub single and a freshman outfielder Jack Cone triple scored three runs and put the home team ahead early. 

The College padded its lead with a four-run sixth inning, where Trehub and Cone connected for more hits and sophomore infielder Matt McDermott finished off the play with a three-RBI triple to bring the Tribe’s lead out to 7-0. 

After allowing only one hit through eight innings, Strain’s shutout was spoiled by two consecutive doubles in the top of the ninth inning. Still, the College emerged with a 7-1 victory. Wade’s win puts his total at 3-3 on the season. 

The nine-inning game made Strain the second most active pitcher on the roster, sitting behind only senior pitcher Bodie Sheehan with 52 innings pitched so far this season. He leads the team in strikeouts with 45. 

GAME 2 (SATURDAY, APRIL 13) 

Sheehan started out on the mound for the Tribe in Game 2. He held the Dukes without a run for the first six innings, limiting them to just two hits. In the top of the seventh, he was replaced with sophomore pitcher Randy Prosperi after allowing his third hit of the game, but Prosperi shut down the inning with a fielder’s choice to keep the Dukes off the scoreboard. The Tribe scored for the first time in the bottom of the seventh off of a Cone homer to claim the first lead of the game, 1-0. 

The Dukes answered back immediately, however, with a three-run top of the eighth. Redshirt junior pitcher Chris Farrell, who leads the team in saves, came in for Prosperi halfway through the inning, but the Dukes got three runners home and surged out to a 3-1 lead. 

The Tribe held the Dukes off the board for the final inning but were unable to put together a comeback, despite getting Cone to third base in the bottom of the ninth. The College was forced to concede the loss, 3-1. Cone was the only player with multiple hits, leading the team with three and the only RBI. 

GAME 3 (SUNDAY, APRIL 14) 

The Tribe scored right away in Sunday’s game, with Zach Pearson getting home on a shortstop throwing error to bring the College out to an early 1-0 lead. Redshirt senior infielder Colin Wrighte then smacked a triple to right field in the fourth before being sent home by Cone, bringing the College ahead, 2-0. 

“It was a well-pitched game by the starters,” head coach Brian Murphy told Tribe Athletics. “I think the difference was we needed to score against their starter, and we didn’t. He was able to make some big pitches in big spots.” 

Freshman pitcher Zach Tsakounis pitched five scoreless innings to start the game out for the College, but ran into trouble with hits in the later innings. Two hits and a walk in the sixth cut the Tribe lead to 2-1, before a JMU homer in the seventh tied the contest at 2-2.  

“Zach today did a really good job of mixing, he was able to throw multiple pitches in the strike zone,” Murphy told Tribe Athletics. “He was able to get the ball to the bottom of the zone and get some soft contact.” 

When junior pitcher Jamie Sara came in relief before the eighth inning, the Dukes were able to string together a series of consecutive hits to get three runners home and burst out to a last-minute 5-2 lead. 

The Tribe fought back, as senior catcher Hunter Smith hit his ninth home run of the season over the fence to cut the Dukes’ advantage to 5-3. However, the day would end in a swinging strikeout, and the College would be forced to concede the series and the game to the Dukes. 

“It’s tough to build an inning once you get to two outs, but obviously Hunter’s home run tightened it up a bit.Unfortunately we couldn’t get any closer,” Murphy told Tribe Athletics. 

Zach Pearson and Smith both picked up multiple hits Sunday. Tsakounis led the pitching rotation with seven strikeouts through just over six innings; Sara would pick up his first loss of the season, bringing his record to 0-1. 

With the series loss, the College falls to 21-14 in the season and 5-7 in the Colonial Athletic Association. It sits at fifth place in the conference, still ahead of Delaware, James Madison, Towson and Hofstra. The team will return to Plumeri Park to play a midweek game against George Washington before continuing CAA play with a home series against Elon. 

Getting back to [George Washington] in the midweek here, hopefully we can get that winning feeling back and carry momentum into next weekend,” Murphy told Tribe Athletics.