After a slow start to the season that was matched only by the slow velocity of Thursday’s starting pitcher for the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore (10-28, 8-4 MEAC), the College of William and Mary (14-19, 4-8 CAA) used small ball and strikes to defeat UMES 4-0.
The Tribe executed three sacrifice bunts and two run-producing sacrifice flies to put four runs on the board, three of those coming against UMES starting pitcher Brian White, who threw consistently in the mid-70s.
“The ball wasn’t carrying again tonight … and we weren’t hitting the ball particularly far tonight, so I was just going to try and put some runs on the scoreboard whenever I got a chance,” Head Coach Frank Leoni said.
The Tribe’s first run came in the fourth inning, when senior designated hitter Rob Nickle pulled a ball to the right side, bringing in senior third baseman Tyler Stampone, who had led off the inning with a double.
Stampone went 3-3 in the ballgame and scored again in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly from Nickle after moving to third on a bunt from freshman first baseman Tadd Bower.
“Just like most teams, we play a lot better when we have the lead than we do when we’re trailing, when we have pressed,” Leoni said.
Senior leftfielder Jeff Jones drove in senior shortstop Lanny Stanfield from third base on a squeeze play in the fifth inning, and Stampone drove in Jones for the Tribe’s fourth and final run in the eighth.
Freshman lefthander Cole Shain only needed one run though, as he held the Hawks scorelessthrough five innings on four hits.
“All I want to do is just throw strikes and let them put the ball in play,” Shain said. “As you could see, it was a quick game. Stampone had a great night… as well as [senior second baseman James] Williamson and Stanfield up the middle.”
The game moved at a rapid pace, clocking in at just over two hours, due to the defensive efforts of the Tribe, especially Stampone and Williamson. Williamson made a diving stop to preserve the shutout in the eighth inning, and started three of the Tribe’s four double plays.
“The defense played spectacular. They were making every play that was hit to them,” Shain said. “They just give you a boatload of confidence behind you.”
The Tribe will open a three-game series against Towson University today. For the College, it will mark the first of four weeks of games against four of the five bottom teams in the conference in a departure from the squad’s difficult early season schedule.
“If we can get on a roll here and get going, these are all winnable games coming up,” Leoni said. “If the right Tribe team shows up, we’re going to have a chance.”