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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

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Offense quiet as Richmond loses game, series to Xavier

It took Xavier University only one inning to outscore the University of Richmond baseball team in a fast-moving 4-1 victory on Sunday afternoon at Pitt Field.

The Musketeers scored four times, including a three-run home run by senior Zac Richard, against junior Matt Trent, Richmond's starting pitcher, in the fourth inning. That was enough offensive support for Xavier's pitchers.

"There's an old saying in baseball that the winning team scores more runs in one inning than the other team scores all game," Richmond coach Mark McQueen said. "That held true today."

Freshman Jon Richard shut down Richmond's offense for the first seven innings and sophomore Nate Mutsch gave up only one single as he closed out the game.

Richmond did have its chances to score some runs, but continued with its season-long trouble of getting a hit with runners in scoring position. In the bottom of the sixth, senior Cameron Brown, the fifth hitter in Richmond's lineup, hit into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded. Xavier was able to turn three double plays against Richmond.

"We just seem to be hitting the ball at people in crucial situations," McQueen said.

That inability to get the crucial hit prompted Richmond senior Victor Croglio to take a chance at the end of the seventh inning. With two outs in the inning, sophomore Adam McConnell hit an infield single. Croglio tried to score from second base on the play, but was thrown out at home.

"Any time your offense isn't clicking on all cylinders, you need to take some chances," McQueen said. "It's a play that has worked for us before this season."

The only run scored by Richmond came during the fourth inning and came thanks to poor play by Xavier. Junior Mike Mergenthaler was hit by a pitch and then advanced to second on a passed ball. He then went to third on a wild pitch. Mergenthaler scored on another passed ball by Xavier catcher Ryan Bellamy.

The unearned run was the only blip for Jon Richard on an otherwise strong outing. Over his seven innings pitched, he struck out seven and gave up seven hits but all of them were only singles.

Trent matched zeroes with Jon Richard, but it was one pitch to Zac Richard that cost him the game. After giving up back-to-back hits to start the fourth inning, Trent fell behind Zac Richard 2-1 when he threw a changeup that Richard hit well beyond the right field wall for a three-run home run.

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"I just made one bad pitch to a good hitter," Trent said. "It was a changeup around his ankles that faded away. He put a good swing on it."

Trent followed the home run with a walk to Phil Bauer, who scored two batters later on a single by Neil Lindgren. That was all that Xavier would get off of Trent who went seven strong innings.

"Matt Trent had a great start today," McQueen said. "He's getting better for us as the season goes along."

Trent, who is now 0-4 on the year, came into the game with a 9.13 era. His era dropped slightly to 8.22 after the loss.

The other two pitchers used by Richmond, seniors Jared Bard and Ian Marshall, held Xavier without a hit over the last two innings of the game.

Richmond fell to 13-13 and 2-4 in Atlantic 10 play with the loss. Xavier, which is now 7-20 and 3-3 in A-10, won the weekend series 2-1. It was the second consecutive series loss for Richmond after losing last weekend against A-10 opponent Fordham University.

"With conference games at home you shoot for at least two out of three" games, McQueen said. "Now we're going to have to go on the road and take two out of three. It's going to be a little tougher for us."

The Spiders play Virginia Commonwealth at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at The Diamond before traveling to Amhearst, Mass., for a weekend series against the University of Massachusetts.

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