Friday, William and Mary kicked off a three-game series with Colonial Athletic Association foe Towson in a doubleheader due to anticipated inclement weather Saturday. The College was 1-1 on the week after beating Maryland for the second time this season, then falling to George Washington. The Tribe went 1-5 in its first six conference games against Charleston and North Carolina-Wilmington, and the Tribe secured its first CAA series victory with two one-run victories over the Tigers to go 2-1 on the weekend.
In the first game, the College (13-20, 3-6 CAA) jumped out to an early lead and held off a furious ninth inning comeback by the Tigers (7-22, 4-5 CAA) to pick up an 8-7 win.
Junior catcher Hunter Smith opened the scoring for the Tribe in the bottom of the second inning with a solo shot to put the College up 1-0. The Tribe’s offense exploded an inning later, starting with an RBI single from junior shortstop Zach Pearson doubled the College’s lead with an RBI single. Junior first baseman Colin Lipke batted next, hitting the Tribe’s second home run of the day. Lipke’s blast accounted for three runs and gave the College a commanding 5-0 advantage after three innings.
The Tigers began to chip away at the deficit in the top of the fourth inning, plating two runs to cut the College’s lead to three. However, the College scored two runs of its own in the bottom of the fifth inning on a Pearson two-run home run to regain a five-run advantage.
The score remained 7-2 until the bottom of the eighth inning. Freshman second baseman Matt McDermott walked with the bases loaded, allowing sophomore third baseman Patrick Ryan to score and put the Tribe up 8-2. Ryan’s run proved to be extremely important, as the Tigers rallied to within one run in the top of the ninth. The Tigers used five hits, including back-to-back RBI doubles with one out, to cut their deficit to 8-7.
With runners on first and second and two outs, sophomore pitcher Wade Strain forced first baseman Logan Burke to ground out to end the game. Junior pitcher Bodie Sheehan picked up the win to bring his record to 2-3, and Strain earned a save after recording the final two outs of the game.
In the second game of the day, the College jumped out to another early lead and held off a rally by the Tigers to claim a 5-4 victory. After three home runs in the first game, the College scored all of five runs in the second game without a single homer.
The Tribe wasted no time in opening scoring, getting on the board in the bottom of the first inning on an RBI double by Lipke. Pearson scored on the play to put the Tribe up 1-0.
McDermott accounted for the next three RBI’s for the Tribe. He bunted for a base hit in the second inning, allowing sophomore left fielder Brandon Raquet to make it past home plate. In the fourth inning, with the College still up 2-0, McDermott tripled into left-center field to give the College a 4-0 lead. McDermott then scored later in the inning on an RBI double by senior right fielder Ryan Hall, giving the Tribe a comfortable 5-0 lead going into the top of the fifth.
The Tigers did not go out quietly. They scored two runs in both the fifth and the sixth inning to claw to their way within one run. In the ninth inning, they managed to get a runner 90 feet away from tying the match, but Strain picked up another save after forcing two consecutive groundouts to end the game. Sophomore pitcher Chris Farrell recorded the win for the College, bringing his record to 2-1 on the season.
“Friday certainly was an important day for us to at least get back in the mix a little bit,” head coach Brian Murphy said.
Sunday, the Tribe was looking to complete the sweep and move to 4-5 in conference play, but the College’s bats fell silent and the Tigers cruised to a 6-1 victory.
The Tigers jumped out early to claim their first lead of the series in the top of the first inning when right fielder Colin Gimblet ripped an RBI single into right field.
Still holding onto a 1-0 lead, the Tigers scored again in the top of the third. Center fielder Mark Grunberg, who scored the Tigers’ run in the first inning, hit a sacrifice fly to bring home another run and extend the lead to 2-0.
The Tribe’s only run of the game came in the bottom of the fourth inning. Trailing 2-0, sophomore left fielder Brandon Raquet stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. Although the College had only managed one hit in the inning, an error and a hit batsman allowed Raquet to draw a walk that tallied a run.
“It’s tough to beat anybody with three singles, it’s not going to happen. One of those days, we didn’t get anything going.” —HEAD COACH BRIAN MURPHY
The Tigers extended the lead to 3-1 in the next inning. Shortstop Richie Palacios reached on an infield single and picked up an RBI on the play. The score remained 3-1 until the ninth inning, as the College only mustered three hits in the game. The Tigers added three insurance runs in the top of the ninth, avoiding a weekend sweep as they completed their 6-1 win.
“It’s tough to beat anybody with three singles, it’s not going to happen,” Murphy said. “One of those days, we didn’t get anything going.”
The Tribe will look to get its offense back on track Wednesday when it welcomes Old Dominion to Plumeri Park for a mid-week game. The College will then travel to Harrisonburg for a three-game set with James Madison. The Tribe will be looking to pick up its second-straight series victory and improve its conference record.
“We’re trying to win all four,” McDermott said. “That’s the goal, we’re trying to win every conference game.”