The Collegian
Friday, February 23, 2024

Bullpen struggles as Spiders fall to Colonials, 11-5

The University of Richmond baseball team was shut down for eight innings by George Washington University junior Eric Cantrell as the Colonials won the series-deciding game 11-5 on Sunday afternoon at Pitt Field.

Cantrell, considered to be one of the best pitchers in the Atlantic 10 Conference, pitched eight innings and gave up three runs. He kept Richmond batters off balance with a mix of a hard fastballs and breaking off-speed pitches.

"He located very well," Richmond manager Mark McQueen said. "He kept the ball down. We knew he was a good pitcher and we had to keep the score down."

Cantrell was sharp throughout the game and Richmond had only one serious threat. Senior Evan Stehle started the third inning with a fly ball to the right-field wall that hit off of a jumping Tyler McCarthey's glove. Stehle ended up on third base with his first triple of the year.

"He gave me a fastball up and I put a good swing on it," Stehle said.

Senior Victor Croglio then hit a double to left field to drive in Stehle. Junior Mike Mergenthaler drove in the second run of the third inning with a single to center.

Richmond junior Anthony Cafagna kept the Spiders in the game with solid pitching. He got the loss to drop to 1-3 after going five innings and giving up three runs and 10 hits.

Cafagna started the sixth inning but was pulled for senior Jared Bard after a leadoff single. Bard wasn't hit too hard but the hits by GW were placed perfectly and fell in front of Richmond's outfielders.Those hits brought in Cafagna's runner and three more in the sixth.

"Those balls weren't hard hit and they found holes," McQueen said. "The thing we have to do better is stop the inning from snowballing when they get those type of hits."

George Washington scored another run off of Bard in the seventh to make the score 7-2. Richmond sophomore Chris Cowell hit a solo homerun to right-center field to give Richmond some momentum.

The Richmond bullpen was unable to stop GW's potent lineup as four more runs were scored over the last two innings to make the score 11-3 going into the bottom of the ninth. Shortstop Adam McConnell and second baseman Derek Boliek each had RBI singles to make the final score 11-5.

"[The relievers] didn't come in and throw strikes," Stehle said. "Bard made some good pitches but they hit them."

Injuries to pitchers have forced McQueen to put pitchers in unaccustomed positions. McQueen was forced to take relievers and insert them into the rotation because of injuries.

"Right now, we are piecing things together to find what works," he said.

The Spiders will need more starts from their pitchers similar to the seven-inning, two-run start by junior Matt Trent on Saturday if they are to make the A-10 Tournament. After Sunday's loss, Richmond fell to 17-17 and 4-8 in the A-10.

The Spiders have lost each of their four weekend series to A-10 opponents, including this one to the Colonials. They fell to 11th place in the A-10 standings and are trailing by three games for the sixth and final spot in the A-10 championships.

"We still have five series left, so we are not totally out of it," McQueen said.

Richmond travels to the University of Virginia for a 6 p.m. game there on Tuesday. It will continue A-10 play starting on Friday when it plays at Temple University.

Game Notes:

Richmond junior Billy Barber extended his A-10 leading hitting streak to 23 games with a single during the eighth inning. .... Mergenthaler pitched for only the second time this year during the ninth inning. He recorded only one out and gave up three hits and two runs. ... Cowell's homerun gave him nine for the year which is most on the team.

Contact staff writer Andrew Prezioso at

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