Senior Ian Marshall turned in another ace-like start as the University of Richmond baseball team defeated St. Joseph's University, 7-2, on Friday afternoon.
Marshall, who started the season in the bullpen, went eight innings and gave up only five hits. No Hawk baserunner advanced to second base against Marshall.
"He was keeping them off balance," Richmond coach Mark McQueen said of his starting pitcher. "He was just rearing back and throwing."
The combination of Marshall's fastball that reached 93 mph and breaking pitches kept St. Joseph batters guessing during Marshall's eight innings of work.
"He located his fastball which was huge," Richmond catcher Chris Cowell said. "He throws hard and if he mixes his three pitches, he's tough to hit."
Marshall has now allowed three or fewer runs in his last four starts. He said that his having fun on the pitching mound allowed him to be effective.
"When you start pressing, it takes away from your pitching," Marshall said.
Marshall's strong outing was needed, especially early in the game with the Hawks starting pitcher, senior Randy Mower, shutting out the Spiders through the first four innings. The lefty had only allowed two hits until he faced Cowell to start the fifth inning.
Cowell drove the 1-0 pitch from Mower out past the center-field wall for his 12th home run of the year. Cowell's home run seemed to give Richmond a spark as it would score twice more in the inning. Sophomores Robby Massar and Adam McConnell added RBI hits during the inning to give Richmond a 3-0 lead.
"We were a little tight at that point," Cowell said. "They say hitting is contagious and it was today."
Cowell was the designated hitter in the original lineup, but senior catcher Evan Stehle had pain in his arm and the two switched positions. Stehle popped up to the shortstop during the second inning and was then taken out of the game.
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Stehle, who has started 23 games this year at catcher and designated hitter, had been dealing with arm issues for most of the season. McQueen said he is unsure of how long Stehle will be out.
That will mean more time behind the plate for Cowell, who hit another home run in the eighth inning. His two-run home run gave Richmond a 6-0 lead and raised his team gave him 13 on the year, which is most on the team.
"We've had our fair share of games go wrong at the end," Cowell said. "We can always use more runs."
Sophomore Bryan Conway is the only other Spider to be used at catcher this year. He started at that position twice in his career, both of which came this year. If Conway is put into the starting lineup, that leaves senior Chris Cuppia as the only healthy player on the bench.
Massar provided the play of the game during the second inning. He made a leaping catch before crashing hard into the wall. He held onto the ball for the second out of the inning.
"That's why we have padding on the walls," McQueen said. "I was worried that he wasn't going to make the catch."
Senior Jay Joines pitched the ninth inning for Richmond and gave up two runs. But by that time, Richmond's 19th win of the year was sealed.
Richmond came into the game tied for 11th place in the Atlantic 10 Conference standings, and three games behind the sixth-place team for the final spot in the A-10 Tournament.
"We know we haven't produced like we are capable of in conference play so far," McQueen said. "The guys are determined to put 100 percent into baseball."
Richmond continues the weekend series with a 2 p.m. game on Saturday. Junior Matt Trent is scheduled to start for the Spiders.
Contact staff writer Andrew Prezioso at email@example.com
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