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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

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Ninth-inning HR gives Bucknell the win, series over Richmond

University of Richmond freshman pitcher Andrew Blum needed to throw a strike after falling behind the lead-off hitter during the top of the ninth in a tied game. Blum did just that but unfortunately for Richmond, it was too good of a pitch as Bucknell University's Colby Vanderbeck drove the pitch for a home run that gave Bucknell a 4-3 victory Sunday afternoon at Pitt Field.

Blum, who was making his second career appearance, came on in the eighth inning and got out of trouble then when he got Drew Constable to fly out to center field to end the inning with a runner on third. He would not be so lucky the next inning though as Bucknell got its third home run of the day.

"That was the story of the game, we couldn't keep the ball in the park," Richmond manager Mark McQueen said. "Playing at home in this field, even with the new bats, you're going to have to make quality pitches and they have a couple good hitters and we made a couple of mistakes and they made us pay for it."

The Bison also got a solo home run during the fourth from first baseman Doug Shribman and a two-run home run the next inning from center fielder Bob Donato. Donato hit a home run in every game of this three-game weekend series and now has four on the year.

The first two home runs came off of freshman Andrew Brockett. Brockett pitched 6.2 innings and gave up eight hits and struck out six Bison batters. He appeared frustrated after giving up the second home run and when Gerry Runyan grounded the ball back to Brockett with two outs, Brockett appeared to take out some of his aggression on the throw over to first.

Although both Brockett and Blum did give up the home runs, McQueen said that this is still a learning process for his young pitchers.

"It's a different game than high school," McQueen said. "Right now, we're kind of feeling out what they can and can't do and I think they're kind of feeling out what they can and can't do themselves. I don't expect the same mistakes a second time."

Those two home runs gave Bucknell a 3-0 lead headed into the bottom of the fifth, but that's when the bottom of Richmond's order started a rally. Bucknell's Dylan Seeley contained Richmond's offense the first time through the lineup but when freshmen Nick Poulos and Mike Small hit consecutive singles to put runners on at first and third with one out for lead-off hitter Robby Massar. Massar brought in Poulous with a single to left field and Small was brought in two batters later with sophomore Jake Mayers' single.

"Always when you go through the lineup once and get a feel for the pitcher, what he's got off-speed wise, it always helps your timing," said junior Phil Ruzbarsky, who went 2 for 3 with a walk.

Richmond's bottom half of the lineup struck again the next inning when it got the first two runners on base. Junior Derek Boliek tried to advance the runners with a bunt but it was hit too hard and junior Bryan Conway was out at third. After Poulos lined out — which would have been a double play to end the inning but Shribman missed touching the base — Small brought in Ruzbarsky to tie the game.

Richmond's six through nine hitters combined for half of Richmond's 12 hits and scored all three of its runs.

The Spiders have struggled with getting a hit with runners in scoring position and it cost them again Sunday. During the fourth, Ruzbarsky had Mayers and Bret Williams on second and third with two outs, but failed to bring them in. For the game, Richmond left 10 runners on base with five of them being in scoring position when the inning ended.

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Bucknell came into the weekend series winless in its previous four games this season, but took two of three from Richmond. No game was decided by more than two runs and no team scored more than five runs in a game.

"It was one of those series that I think that if we played eight times, it probably be four and four and every one of them would be a one or two run game," McQueen said.

Richmond plays its sixth-straight home game Tuesday afternoon when it hosts Virginia Military Institute at 2:30 p.m.

Contact staff writer Andrew Prezioso at andrew.prezioso@richmond.edu

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