The Collegian
Thursday, February 29, 2024

Six-run lead not enough for Richmond

When University of Richmond junior pitcher Billy Falasco lost command of his pitches during the fifth inning, Richmond started to lose control of its 6-0 lead. The three runs that Xavier scored that inning were the first of 10-consecutive runs the Musketeers would score en route to a 10-6 victory Friday afternoon at Pitt Field.

The Spiders got off to a quick lead with a two-run home run by junior Mike Mergenthaler. Richmond had a chance to score more in the first inning, but senior designated hitter Evan Stehle grounded out to the shortstop with runners on first and second and two outs.

Stehle had a chance for redemption in the bottom of the third when he came to bat with the bases loaded and two outs. But he flied out to the right fielder and the score remained at 2-0.

"I don't think we got complacent, but we didn't execute as well as we could," Mergenthaler said. "Sometimes we start to get happy with scoring runs early in the game."

Richmond chased Xavier's starting pitcher, sophomore Josh Deeg, during the fourth inning thanks to throwing errors. With sophomore Robert Massar on second after a one-out double, sophomore Adam McConnell bunted back to Deeg. But Deeg made a throwing error and Massar scored and McConnell ended up on second.

The fourth-inning errors continued for the Musketeers when Mergenthaler brought in a run when right fielder, senior Neil Lindgren, dropped Mergenthaler's fly ball. Deeg's last pitch went for a single by junior Billy Barber that brought in two runs, one of which was scored after Xavier's left fielder misplayed the ball.

Freshman Seth Willoughby came in for Deeg and shut out Richmond for the rest of the game. The Spiders only got two hits and two walks after the fourth inning.

Falasco started to lose command of his pitches during the fifth inning after shutting out the Musketeers for the first four innings. He walked the bases loaded with one out in the inning when senior Drew Schmidt got Xavier their first run with a sacrifice fly.

Junior Ben Thomas followed up Schmidt's sacrifice fly with a RBI single. Senior Bobby Freking brought in one more run with his two-out double to left field.

Xavier scored a run in the sixth when junior Ryan Bellamy homered to left field to bring the score to 6-4 and force Richmond coach Mark McQueen to turn to his bullpen earlier than he wanted.

"We had to bring in [senior Jared] Bard two outs earlier than I wanted," McQueen said. "He got through the inning, but seemed to lose it the next one."

The Musketeers would tie the game against Bard the following inning. With runners on first and third, senior Zac Richard got an infield single and went to second on a throwing error by McConnell. One run was brought in by the error and it put runners on second and third with two outs. Senior Jay Joines was brought in for Bard, but was not able to stop the Musketeers.

Joines had two strikes on junior Phil Bauer, but Bauer was able to sinle and bring in a run. Bauer tried to score on the hit, but was thrown out at home. That made the score tied at 6.

"Jay throws a lot of strikes," McQueen said. "Sometimes he throws too many. He needs to throw the ball down [in the strike zone] with two strikes."

Xavier scored three runs off of Joines and one off of Barber in the eighth to go up 10-6. Schmidt had the big hit for Xavier during the inning with a double to left center that brought in two runs.

Richmond tried to manufacture a run in the seventh inning. After a lead-off single by senior Cameron Brown, sophomore Chris Cowell, the sixth hitter, put down a bunt but it went directly back to Willoughby and Xavier was able to turn the double play.

"We seem to be snake-bitten recently," McQueen said. "Everything we do seems to backfire."

Richmond will try to get out of this funk when it continues its series with Xavier tomorrow with a noon game at Pitt Field.

Contact staff writer Andrew Prezioso at

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