Saturday, March 4, William and Mary (7-5, 0-0 CAA) lost 8-4 against Fairfield (4-3, 0-0 MAAC) at Plumeri Park in Williamsburg, Virginia.
The Tribe entered Saturday’s game determined to continue their success at home after beginning the season 5-1 in Plumeri Park. After Friday’s game against West Virginia was postponed due to rain, the Tribe were ready to begin their weekend homestand against Fairfield, followed by Canisius on Sunday.
Sophomore pitcher Nate Knowles started strong for the Tribe, setting down all three Stags he faced in the first. Knowles entered the game with a 1-0 record and an earned run average of zero, giving the Tribe three strong innings on the mound.
After stranding two runners in the bottom half of the first inning, a William and Mary defensive error in the top of the second led to a bases-loaded walk to Fairfield designated hitter Nick Sturino. This resulted in the first run of the game, giving Fairfield an early 1-0 lead.
The Tribe retaliated in the bottom half of the second inning after freshman infielder Corey Adams singled and sophomore infielder Luca Danos walked after being hit by a pitch. This put two runners on for the Green and Gold’s lead-off hitter, sophomore outfielder Lucas Carmichael. Fairfield pitcher Jake Noviello was able to escape the inning after forcing Charmichael to ground out to second, ending the inning scoreless and preserving the Stag’s lead at 1-0.
Noviello had a much-needed strong performance against the Tribe. In his previous two starts, the Fairfield starter let up 13 earned runs in just 7.1 innings of work, but finished Saturday with a mere one earned run over 5.2 innings.
The offense of both teams stalled out in the middle innings, even after the Tribe went to the bullpen in the fourth. Sophomore pitcher Mike Weidinger gave the Tribe three strong innings of relief pitching, finishing with four strikeouts and only allowing two hits.
Both offenses found their stride in the sixth. The Stags strung together two singles from third baseman Charlie Pagliarini and right fielder Mike Handal, putting runners in scoring position for the first time since the second inning. Weidinger quickly escaped the threat, getting Sturino to fly out to center which allowed the Tribe the chance to get back to the plate and erase the lead.
Senior outfielder Joe Delossantos gave the Green and Gold the spark they needed to get on the board in the sixth inning. After a groundout to start the bottom of the inning, Delossantos ripped a single up the middle and got to work on the base paths. Delossantos stole second and third base over the course of five pitches, putting a Tribe player on third with only one out. Later in his at bat, senior catcher Max Winters cracked a sacrifice fly into right field, allowing Delossantos to tag up and score the game-tying run with ease.
Fairfield fired back immediately in the seventh. After another Tribe pitching change, the Stags found themselves with a runner on third with the help of some smart situational hitting. Another hit batter put a second runner on base, giving Fairfield second baseman Mike Becchetti the perfect opportunity to take the lead back from the Tribe. However, an erroneous defensive play from the Green and Gold began the scoring without the Stags even needing to swing. A passed ball allowed Fairfield to score the leading run and gave the runner on first the chance to advance to second. The Stags and Becchetti immediately took advantage of the runner on second, with a run-scoring single up the middle later in the inning that extended the lead to 3-1.
The Tribe’s offense failed to produce any runs in the bottom half of the seventh, opening the door for Fairfield to grow their lead. The eighth inning began with a single and another hit batter, giving the Stags two more baserunners that advanced after a nearly perfect bunt from graduate student shortstop Noah Lucier. Just like the inning before, the Tribe shot themselves in the foot with mistakes in the field, this time with a wild pitch that plated another Fairfield run. Immediately after, infielder Griffin Watson singled and drove in a second Stag run of the inning, stretching their lead to 5-1 going into the bottom of the eight.
However, William and Mary didn’t quit. After a double play turned off of a hard liner from senior third baseman Ben Williamson, the Tribe dug deep and got to work with two outs. Delossantos singled for his second hit of the day, then advanced to third after a Winters single to right. Slowly, Tribe fans were getting back into the game, and the Green and Gold were only getting started. Junior Nate Goranson recorded a third consecutive hit for the Tribe, driving in Delossantos and cutting the lead to three.
The Stags decided to bring in a new pitcher to limit the damage, but the Green and Gold just kept hitting. Now with runners on first and second, graduate student Cole Ragone singled and drove in the second run of the inning, making the score 5-3 with runners still on. After a walk to freshman pinch hitter Charlie Iriotakis, the Tribe had bases loaded for Adams. However, Adams flew out to short to end the inning.
Fairfield wasted no time shutting down the Tribe’s momentum in the ninth. After going through two more William and Mary pitchers, the Stags tallied five hits and tagged on three more runs, extending their lead to 8-3 with three outs remaining for the Tribe.
William and Mary tried to create a last chance push in the bottom of the ninth, and even tagged on a fourth run after Goranson was hit by the pitch with the bases loaded. However, the lead proved to be insurmountable for the Tribe to overcome. After Ragone grounded out to short, the Tribe lost just their second home game of the year by a score of 8-4.
The Tribe will look to bounce back on the road against No. 19 UVA (10-0, 0-0 ACC) on Tuesday, March 7 in Charlottesville, Virginia.