Baseball: Three-run homer in ninth seals 5-4 loss to Wagner

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Courtesy Image / Tribe Athletics

Junior pitcher Randy Prosperi reassumed the mound in the ninth inning to defend the Tribe’s 4-2 lead. After pitching a short, 3-up 3-down half in the 8th, he now faced the top of the Seahawks’ lineup. Four batters later, Prosperi stared down Seahawks right fielder Griffin Schneider. The tying run was on second, but the Tribe had two outs and a two-strike lead on Schneider. With one pitch away from potentially ending the game, Prosperi floated one belt-high past Schneider. Schneider seized the opportunity, winding up and smacking the ball to deep left where it crested the wall. Schneider had hit a three-run homer to put the Seahawks up by one, and the late lead proved insurmountable for the Tribe.

William and Mary (3-6) fell 5-4 to Wagner (3-5) Friday, Feb. 28 at home. But, unlike the eventful ninth, the game began with a slow, defensive start.

Redshirt senior pitcher Chris Farrell got into a rhythm quickly in the first. He struck out leadoff hitter, Seahawk center fielder Henry Martinez. He gave up a walk and a base hit to force a double play to end the half scoreless.

“I was definitely trying to put the ball in play, pitch to contact and dictate contact,” Farrell said, reflecting on the opening innings. “If I make pitches and let my defense handle it, then they’ll get the job done.”

In the first five innings he pitched, Farrell faced twenty two batters, averaging around four batters an inning. He allowed only two hits.

The second inning looked promising for the Tribe, loading the bases with two walks and a double from sophomore designated hitter Hunter Hart. It couldn’t convert on this advantage, and the inning ended with three men left on base. The Tribe, early on, was finding difficulty in coordinating its offensive drives.

The contest remained scoreless until two-thirds of the way through the fourth. Up until this point, it was a pitching battle. But though he stayed calm, Farrell refused to give up.

“I was just trying to keep momentum, keep my cues going,” Farrell said. “I always think about pitching pitch-by-pitch: getting the feedback, and then seeing what I can do to better myself. That was the game plan tonight.”

In the fourth, Farrell walked the bases loaded on a contentious full-count call but struck out two in a row. He walked another to put the Seahawks up 0-1.

The Tribe responded offensively, waking up to the Seahawks’ threat. Two of the Tribe reached base on two outs. Freshman short stop Ben Greenspon hit one to center field to drive in Hart, tying the game. Waiting on third base, sophomore third baseman Cole Ragone watched sophomore centerfielder Jack Cole take the plate. Cole rose to the two-out challenge and hit deep in the center/right field hole to take a 2-1 lead.

Sophomore Rojo Prarie relieved Farrell one out into the fifth with bases loaded. With a strikeout and an out a first, the half was over, and Prarie had kept the Seahawks scoreless again. He came back in the sixth and pitched the first two batters to full counts. Seahawk left fielder Emil Matti walked, and catcher Johnny Kampes placed a sac fly to center field to send Matti to third. A walk and a strikeout later, Prarie threw a wild pitch past senior catcher Matthew Trehub, and Matti scored.

Freshman left-handed pitcher Matt Howat came in for the seventh. He struck out the first batter looking. For the last two outs, he stuck out Schneider and Seahawk short stop Mike Ruggiero swinging. Both were three-pitch strikes, and Ruggiero in particular twirled into the ground chasing Howat’s curve. He gave up neither hits nor runs, the only Tribe pitcher to do so.

In the bottom of the seventh, sophomore Jack Cone led off and reached base on a dropped ball to center field. Junior second baseman Matt McDermott hit to move Cone forward, and senior left fielder Brandon Raquet was intentionally walked to load the bases. Hart popped up to centerfield to send Cone home and boost the score to 3-2. Though there was scoring potential after Raquet and McDermott stole to remove the force, the Tribe could not convert.

“I didn’t think we had bad at-bats at all tonight,” Hart, who had one hit and an RBI on the night, said. “They just weren’t good enough. Sometimes you just have to see that one extra pitch, and tonight, we just didn’t do that.”

The Tribe found itself with another loaded-base situation in the bottom of the eighth. Seahawk pitcher Nick Zuppe balked and hit Cone with a pitch to fill the bags, and McDermott scored the last Tribe run of the game.

Going into the ninth with a two-run lead, the Tribe was hopeful for an early finish. Prosperi wiped out the Seahawks in the eighth, but gave up three hits and three runs in the ninth to seal the Tribe’s defeat. “The ball just didn’t go our way,” Hart remarked. The Tribe had nearly double the hits of the Seahawks with nine, but could not align offensively and convert their many loaded-base opportunities.

“I think we have a lot of keys, a lot of pieces to the puzzle,” Hart said. “We’re waiting for that one weekend, one night where we just all put it together at once.” And Farrell echoed that sentiment: “It’s early in the year, and that’s when you really figure out what the team is made of. I think we definitely have the pieces, and like Hunter said, it’s all about putting it together. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”

The Tribe takes on West Virginia on Saturday and Georgetown on Sunday to finish its weekend home stand. It will travel to D.C. on Mar. 3 to take on George Washington on the road.