Richmond baseball played its third conference series against St. Louis University over the weekend. Coming into the series, the Billikens led the conference with an undefeated conference record, but the Spiders won the second and third game to give St. Louis their first two losses.
Despite scoring seven runs, Richmond lost the first game largely because it gave up eight runs in the first four innings. St. Louis jumped out to an early lead with a run in the first inning, followed by a solo-home-run in the third and a devastating six runs in the fourth.
The Spiders rallied, scoring two runs in the bottom of the fifth and another two in the fourth. Nevertheless, Richmond was unable to regain its footing as St. Louis quickly scored another three in the sixth inning. The Spiders were able to score only three more runs in the ninth inning. The final score was 13-7.
Offensively, junior Kurtis Brown led Richmond with four hits on five at-bats in the game. He was able to score twice and also batted in a run. Spiders third baseman Michael Morman also had a good day offensively, with a two-run home-run in the fifth inning.
In the second game of the three-game series, Richmond pitcher Zach Grossfeld gave up five hits and no runs in just more than seven innings on the mound. Grossfeld gave up only one hit in the first four innings and struck out six on the outing. For his performance in this game, the Atlantic 10 conference named Grossfeld the pitcher of the week.
Senior Jansen Fraser got the Spiders started offensively with a solo run home run in the second. Fraser’s homer remained the only scoring for either side until Richmond added three more runs in the eighth. The Billikens attempted to come back late but were held to only two runs by reliever Caleb Ward with the assistance of a leaping catch by Fraser. The final score was 4-2.
The final game of the series was a hard-fought battle by both sides. After a two-run home-run in the top of the first for the Billikens, Doug Kraeger responded in the bottom of the first with a two-run shot of his own. Later in the same inning, Fraser added his second home run of the weekend, this time for two runs.
After the quick spurt of scoring in the first inning, both teams were held scoreless by strong defenses until the seventh. St. Louis scored one run in the inning and was poised to score again with a man on first and third. Richmond center fielder D.J. Lee got the Spiders out of the precarious situation with a sprinting catch in the left-center gap.
Fraser was able to score in the bottom of the eighth on a double by Daniel Brumbaugh, giving the Spiders the lead 5-2. Although this remained the final score, the Billikens challenged the Spiders' defense in the ninth inning.
St. Louis put two men on first and second with only one out before outfielder Michael Bozarth hit a hard line drive to left center. It looked as if at least one run would surely score, but again, Lee demonstrated his speed and gave himself a chance to make a play on the ball. After diving, Lee appeared to have the ball in his glove but he quickly slid head first into the wall. Clearly in pain, Lee threw off his glove with the ball still in it. In the confusion, the St. Louis runner on first passed the runner on second, who thought Lee had caught the ball.
— Richmond Baseball (@SpiderBaseball) April 10, 2016
After conferring, the umpires ruled that Lee had not caught the ball but called one of the runners out for passing the other. Although the game was quickly resolved when Michael Morman got the third out in the next play, Coach Terry Woodson believed Lee had actually made the catch.
“They called it that he passed a runner, and they called it no catch but we’ve seen the video and he catches it but flips his glove off. It was a tremendous effort,” Woodson said after the game.
Fraser got four hits on the game including the home run in the second. Fraser was awarded the Atlantic 10 player of the week, alongside Grossfeld, for his overall performance all weekend.
“It’s awesome, it puts us right back in the midst of things," Fraser said after game three. "Hopefully we can keep this momentum going.”
After the series against St. Louis, the Spiders' in-conference record moved to 4-5.
Contact sports writer Colby Wilcox at email@example.com