William and Mary’s pitching shined this weekend in a clean three-game sweep of Colonial Athletic Association rival North Carolina-Wilmington, as the Tribe (19-7, 4-2 CAA) trounced the Seahawks (15-14, 3-3 CAA) in two close 3-2 wins and one 8-1 blowout in North Carolina.
FRIDAY, MARCH 29 (GAME 1)
Starting pitcher junior Wade Strain allowed only two hits through four scoreless innings to start out Friday’s game, but it was the Seahawks who were first on the board as UNCW right fielder Kep Brown hit a homer to left field to put the home team ahead 1-0.
However, the Tribe was only left behind for a single frame; freshman infielder Hunter Hart tied the game in the seventh frame with an RBI single to score junior first baseman Matthew Trehub and knot the score at 1-1. In the next frame, the College snuck out to their first lead of the game when sophomore infielder Matt McDermott was hit by a pitch and eventually sent home on an RBI single by freshman outfielder Matt Thomas. The Seahawks immediately tied it in the bottom of the inning, and the game was sent into the ninth frame tied at 2-2.
Pitching troubles in the ninth sunk the Seahawks; Trehub reached first on a dropped third strike. Freshman infielder Phil Conti was sent in to pinch run. A sacrifice bunt from Hart and an RBI single from McDermott then sent Conti home to claim a late ninth–inning 3-2 lead.
Redshirt junior pitcher Chris Farrell then picked up the win on the mound with a clutch swinging strikeout in the bottom of the ninth to strand a UNCW runner on third and claim the victory for the Tribe, 3-2.
SATURDAY, MARCH 30 (GAME 2)
Saturday, in contrast to Friday’s last-minute victory, saw the winning run scored in the early innings. The Tribe scored five runs over the first two frames to surge out to a 5-0 lead over the Seahawks heading into the third. Thomas began the game with a lead-off single, and the line kept moving as seven hits culminated in those five runs to push the Tribe into the lead.
The Tribe added one more in the fourth off two walks to make the lead 6-0. The Seahawks cut into the advantage in the bottom of the frame with a single run to make the score 6-1, but starting pitcher senior Bodie Sheehan was relentless, not letting the home team get any closer as he pitched seven innings while only allowing that single run, six hits and zero walks while striking out seven batters.
Senior pitcher Nick Butts then closed out the game with two hitless, scoreless innings to keep the Seahawks at one while the Tribe added two more runs in the eighth and ninth to make the final score an 8-1 win. Sheehan would record the win to improve his record to 3-0 on the season.
SUNDAY, MARCH 31 (GAME 3)
Sunday, the Tribe closed out the series with another close win. The Tribe was again first on the board, putting up one run on a throwing error in the second and two more on a left field error in the fourth. Meanwhile, starting pitcher freshman Zach Tsakounis threw six scoreless innings, allowing only six hits, two walks and striking out four.
After holding the 3-0 lead for seven frames, the Tribe ran into trouble in the eighth when the relief pitching faltered, allowing two consecutive hits and a walk to load the bases. Junior pitcher Jamie Sara entered the game and limited the damage to just two runs, but UNCW had managed to cut the lead to 3-2 and came within one run of the tying the contest.
It came down to Farrell to close it out. After his win Friday, he picked up the save Sunday with a three-strikeout, hitless inning to finish off the game and secure another 3-2 victory for the Tribe.
With the three-game sweep of the Seahawks this weekend, the Tribe has already eclipsed its conference win total from last season, when it went 3-21 in the conference. Now 4-2 in the CAA and sitting at second place in the conference behind Elon, the team’s race to the playoffs will continue when they resume conference play next weekend, April 5, at Delaware.