The first inning of Wednesday night’s home matchup against Longwood seemed to prefigure a familiar story for William and Mary. But the Tribe’s three-run burst to kick off the game was followed instead by pitching woes that dogged the team in a 9-7 loss to the Lancers (12-10).
The Tribe (14-6) came into the match riding a six-game winning streak that featured successful pitching and offensive firepower. The Tribe’s three-game sweep of Iona last weekend was bookended by diametric 31-1 and 2-0 wins. The offense was there Wednesday night, but the Tribe’s shutdown pitching was conspicuously absent.
Freshman pitcher Nick Brown (2-1) took the loss, giving up four earned runs over three and two-thirds innings. Brown’s lackluster start came on the heels of two strong performances to kick off his collegiate career. The Lancers, however, cracked Brown’s pitching in the third inning with two runs. Two runs further rattled Brown before head coach Brian Murphy took him out.
The Lancers’ two-run fourth inning brought the score to 4-3, erasing the Tribe’s three-run first inning. Junior first baseman Michael Katz — who was named the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Week Monday — hit a two-run double and scored on a Longwood error in the first inning.
The batting the Tribe displayed in the first inning didn’t materialize again until the sixth inning. Meanwhile, the Lancers continued to pound the Tribe’s pitching and the deep reserve of relief pitchers was forced to step in by just the third frame. Freshman reliever Daniel Powers, who made a crucial relief appearance in the Tribe’s Saturday victory over the Gaels, gave up three earned runs over two innings before being spelled by sophomore reliever Aaron Fernandez.
Trailing 7-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Tribe’s bats brought the team back into contention. Freshman shortstop Tim Hoehn’s double to center field drove home sophomore center fielder Josh Smith. After Fernandez surrendered another run to the Lancers, the College scored three runs in the seventh inning, bringing its comeback bid to within one run.
Senior second baseman Ryan Lindemuth, hitting in the 3-spot, started off the inning with a walk. Senior designated hitter Ryan Nutter, sophomore catcher Charley Gould, and Katz each hit singles to drive in Lindemuth for the first run of the inning. Next up, Smith drove Longwood pitcher Travis Burnette’s pitch down the left field line to bring home Nutter and Katz. With no outs and the lead down to one, the game seemed within reach.
The Tribe failed to score again, while Longwood drove through one more in the top of the ninth against sophomore reliever Joseph Gaouette. The Tribe came up to bat in the bottom of the ninth, down two runs, with Katz — hitting .360 on the season — starting off at the plate.
Katz struck out swinging and his teammates followed with two pop-outs to seal the 9-7 loss.
Senior third baseman Kevin Casey had his worst hitting performance of the season Wednesday, failing to reach base on any of his five plate appearances. However, Nutter garnered a hit on all but one of his five at-bats.
The Tribe hosts Massachusetts-Lowell Friday, before facing off against Brown over the weekend in a two-game series. All three games will be held at Plumeri Park. First-pitch for Friday’s matchup is slated for 7 p.m.