Pitching was a major question mark coming into the season for William and Mary. Tuesday and Wednesday’s games showed why.
While the Tribe’s relatively inexperienced pitching staff has shown sporadic potential this season, its lack of depth presents a serious concern for fans. Head coach Brian Murphy deployed a combined nine pitchers during Tuesday’s 3-10 loss at Richmond and Wednesday’s 5-20 loss at Old Dominion.
The Tribe (18-9, 2-0 CAA) started off against the Spiders (12-12-1) with sophomore pitcher Aaron Fernandez on the mound. Fernandez lasted just two and one-third innings after giving up five quick runs. The disappointing start marked Fernandez’s first loss of the season. He currently sits at a 2-1 record.
Fernandez’s successor, freshman relief pitcher Daniel Powers, did not find any more success against the Richmond batters. Powers surrendered four runs in the fourth, prompting Murphy to make another switch. The College’s final two relief pitchers, freshman John Yoest and sophomore Andrew White, were much more successful, giving up just one run over a combined four innings.
The Spiders’ pitching contained the Tribe’s usually deadly offense. Junior first baseman Michael Katz had one of his worst hitting performances of the season, racking up just one hit on five at-bats. Senior second baseman Ryan Lindemuth, batting in the three-spot, was hitless in the game. The team’s best offensive inning came in the second with Katz scoring off an error and freshman shortstop Tim Hoehn smacking an RBI-single to left field.
The Tribe’s batters were retired in order in the ninth inning to end the game and snap the team’s two-game winning streak.
The College traveled to Old Dominion (17-12) the next day, where its pitching woes became even more apparent. The Tribe’s pitching staff eventually surrendered 20 runs in the game, the most all season. Junior pitcher Bryson Kuahaahaa began with two shutout innings. Junior left fielder Nick Thompson started the game with a home run to left field to give the Tribe a 1-0 lead.
Kuahaahaa carried the one-run lead into the third inning, when the Monarchs’ offense took over. The Tribe gave up nine runs in the third inning. The Monarchs blasted Kuahaahaa for five runs, before he was taken out with just one out in the inning. Freshman relief pitcher Nick Brown gathered the final two runs in the inning but not before giving up four more runs.
Junior relief pitcher J.T. Castner failed to stem the tide, turning in his worst pitching performance of the season. Castner scattered seven runs and seven hits over two innings. Freshman relief pitcher Matthew Smith followed Castner, giving up four more runs in two and two-thirds innings of work. Murphy became so strapped for relief pitchers that he put in a regular outfielder, junior Sean Rutherford, who finished the game on the mound for the Tribe. The decision was decided well before the final innings as the Tribe fell 20-5 in its most lopsided loss of the season.
The Monarchs registered 21 hits compared to the Tribe’s ten. Old Dominion’s offensive explosion further highlighted the College’s struggle to find a consistent pitching staff beyond its first three starters.
The Tribe hopes to preserve its undefeated record in the Colonial Athletic Association during a three-game weekend series against UNC-Wilmington. The series begins Friday at Plumeri Park with the first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m.