The Richmond baseball team was the clear favorite to win this weekend against Sacred Heart, but sometimes even the favorites disappoint.
“Disappointing” was the word senior pitcher Ryan Cook chose to describe the series, which Richmond lost two games to one. The Spiders were coming off an eight-game winning streak, while the Pioneers had opened their season 1-14.
“It was one of those things where you just kind of rolled the ball out there and expected to win,” Cook said. “You can’t do that. I think it’s kind of a wakeup call for us.”
With their record now standing at 18-10, the Spiders are still clinging to their first-place ranking in the Atlantic 10 (8-1) and are left thankful that their most discouraging series performance this season was not against a conference opponent.
“We played awful, but it wasn’t a conference weekend,” head coach Tracy Woodson said. “So we can hopefully get going Tuesday [against JMU] and carry some momentum into next weekend.”
Woodson called all facets of his team’s play “horrible.” The pitching ended up being the difference-maker as the normally roaring offense fell silent.
On Saturday morning Cook pitched a beautiful game, earning his fifth win of the season in a 4-2 Richmond win. He threw eight innings and limited the Pioneers to two runs on three hits with six strikeouts. Senior Ray Harron earned his fourth save, shutting down the Pioneers in a hitless ninth inning.
But the pitching accolades ended with Cook and Harron.
The pitchers in the second game of Saturday’s double-header struggled. Of the five pitchers who took the mound, all but two – Zach Moore and Sean Collins, who each pitched only two-thirds of an inning – allowed at least two runs in Sacred Heart’s 9-1 win.
Freshman Brendan McGuigan earned his first loss after putting together a decent start for the Spiders. He allowed three runs – just one of which was earned – over 5 1/3 innings and struck out eight batters.
The defining moment of the game came in the top of the ninth when sophomore Robbie Baker gave up a grand slam to erase Richmond’s chance at a comeback.
Sunday’s pitchers Dylan Stoops, Danny Martinson and Harron were better, but two errors behind Stoops and a few key hits spoiled his five-inning, nine-strikeout outing. Sacred Heart tied the game, 7-7, off Martinson in the sixth, and scored the game-winning run off Harron in the top of the ninth.
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It looked like the hitters were coming to the plate with something to prove on Sunday after their inadequate outings in the previous two games. They scored in each of the first three innings, but were ultimately shut down in the final six.
Junior Jansen Fraser and freshman Kyle Adams were the only Richmond hitters to have a multi-hit game in the series. Fraser went 5-for-8 (.625) and Adams went 4-for-10 (.400).
“[As a team] we really weren’t that aggressive,” Fraser said. “Their pitching definitely wasn’t of the quality to get us out. I think we just beat ourselves today. It’s frustrating.”
Sacred Heart, a team with a measly .208 batting average, outscored Richmond (.294 average) 19-12. That can’t become a trend if the Spiders want to get comfortable atop the A-10.
“You can’t just play to your competition and what their records are,” Woodson said. “And we did it. We were horrible. Everything.”
The Spiders will be tasked with reversing their luck against JMU (12-21) and VMI (10-19) this Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, before returning to conference play against Rhode Island next weekend.
Contact reporter Erin Flynn at email@example.com
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