Friday, Apr. 2, William and Mary (5-12, CAA 3-3) hosted the first of a three-game set against Richmond (10-5). Thanks to a quintet of pitchers, backed up by a strong infield defense, the Tribe was able to start off the series with a 4-3 win over the Spiders.
Graduate student RHP Wade Strain took the mound, where he would stay for the next 6.1 innings. Facing the first two Spider leadoffs, center fielder Wyatt Ulrich and left fielder Anthony Forte, proved no problem for Strain. He did not hesitate to use the Tribe’s middle infield to his advantage, where Ulrich and Forte grounded out.
Catcher Drew Blakely gave the Spiders their first hit of the game, batting in the third slot. Though he doubled with a long ball to right field, the Spiders could not drive him home. Strain close out the inning with another ground out to second base. Senior shortstop Matt McDermott and junior second baseman Phil Conti rolled all three outs the first inning.
The Tribe’s offense came alive immediately with back-to-back hits from third baseman Ben Williamson and McDermott. Williamson singled up the middle, and McDermott doubled to left to drive him home. McDermott advanced to third on junior centerfielder Jack Cone’s ground out, but the Tribe could not convert. Spider RHP Jacob Marcus closed out the inning with minimal damage and a strikeout.
Strain stole a strikeout of his own to open the second inning. The Spiders went three up, three down.
However, though the Tribe swung for the fences, they could not figure out how to follow up their lights-out defense. Sophomore designated hitters Mark Trotta and Joe Delossantos hit a pair of fly balls to center field, and Conti batted into a fielder’s choice with junior right fielder Matt Thomas for the last out.
Strain pitched another backwards K against Spider shortstop Jared Sprague-Lott to open the third, but quickly followed up that at-bat by walking second baseman Rich Ciufo. Ulrich singled, pushing Ciufo to third, then stole a base. The Spiders had two men in scoring position with only one out. Strain re-centered and was able to leave both of the men on base after a pop-up to second and a fly to center.
The Tribe was back to the top of its line-up to begin the bottom of the third. Williamson and McDermott grounded and flew out respectively, but Cone held out for a walk. In the box, he was patient, but on the base path, he was over-eager. Marcus caught him stealing second during senior left fielder David Hogarth’s at-bat.
Once again, Strain opened up with a strikeout, killing the Spiders’ momentum in the fourth, where they went three up, three down. This time, the Tribe offense put its pieces together to back up Strain. Graduate center Matthew Trehub opened this hitting with a double, down the left field line. Trotta walked. A passed ball during senior first baseman Tyler Solomon’s at-bat allowed both to advance a base, and Thomas walked to load the bases.
Marcus walked the next two batters, Conti and Williamson, and allowed the Tribe to add two runs to its lead, 3-0. The pressure of the loaded bases and two outs made Marcus’s pitches erratic. The Spiders pulled him at 4.2, and subbed in LHP Alden Mathes. Mathes closed out the inning with a ground out from McDermott.
Strain’s stamina began to wear in the fifth as well. Instead of his usual strikeout, he walked the first batter, designated hitter Johnny Hipsman. Two outs followed — a line-out and a strikeout looking from Ciufo — but the well-rested top of the Spiders’ line-up was back up. Ulrich found the chinks in Strain’s armor, and hit a triple to the right gap in centerfield. Hipsman scored, and Ulrich loomed on third base. Strain, however, mustered up enough strength to close out the inning against Forte.
The Tribe scored their fourth and final run in the fifth against Mathes. Cone flew out, but Hogarth and Trehub waited for a pair of walks. A single from Trotta pushed Trehub to second, but allowed Hogarth to run home. Mathes struck out Solomon, but the Spiders pulled him to close out the inning.
The Tribe’s offense extended their half of the inning long enough for Strain to rest. At the top of the sixth, Strain recorded both a K and backwards K, and threw a batter out at first.
The Spiders played RHP Josh Willitis who pitched lights out against the Tribe, going three up, three down.
The seventh marked the beginning of the Spiders’ comeback, while the Tribe’s offense lagged. Strain let the Spiders post back-to-back singles from Sprague-Lott and Hipsman. Though a well-placed grounder against Ciufo allowed the Tribe to log its first out, another single from Ulrich pushed Hipsman home once again. The Tribe pulled Strain and put in sophomore LHP Matt Howat.
Howat struck out his first batter, then walked Blakely to load the bases. Despite the mounting pressure, Howat managed to close out the inning with no more damage. Howat pitched the ball in play, a grounder to shortstop, which McDermott fielded for the final out.
Freshman RHP Garrett Newsome pitched the eighth inning for the Tribe. Though Newsome quickly threw two outs, a single to right center from Sprague-Lott drove the Spiders home once again. Ciufo singled after to left field, advancing Sprague-Lott to second. The Spiders tried to two-out rally, but Newsome regained composure and closed the inning. Going into the ninth, the Tribe led narrowly, 4-3.
Cone was subbed in for the ninth inning to relieve Newsome. Striking out his first batter, then putting the ball in play to his infielders, Cone finished the game for the Tribe and recorded the save.
The Tribe’s cohort of Matts drove their offense throughout the game. McDermott, Trehub and Thomas hit matching doubles, with McDermott recording an RBI as well. To round out the trio of Ts, Trotta also finished the game with an RBI.
The Tribe will travel to Richmond for its next two games in the series. Hoping to use the momentum from its game one win, the Tribe will play a double header on Easter Sunday against the Spiders at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The Spiders have a 10-2 record while playing at home, but the Tribe is 2-7 while away.