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Baseball falls to VCU in three-game series

<p>Junior Alden Mathes at the April 17 game against Virginia Commonwealth University. Photo Courtesy of Richmond Athletics.</p>

Junior Alden Mathes at the April 17 game against Virginia Commonwealth University. Photo Courtesy of Richmond Athletics.

The University of Richmond baseball team lost to the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams in its three-game series from April 15 to April 17 despite graduate student pitcher Brock Weirather having a shutout in the opening game. 

UR started off strong in the first game against VCU on April 15 with an explosive sixth inning for the offense. 

Weirather had a spectacular showing at the first game, throwing a season-high eight strikeouts in his nine innings of play. He also had five innings where no one got on base and gave up no walks. 

"Brock pitched outstanding today," head coach Tracy Woodson said in a post-game interview. "All three pitches were working for him. The biggest moment in the game was in the second when he stranded two runners. That set the tone for the game and the team."

The bottom of the sixth inning is when the Spiders’ offense gained the lead over VCU. Junior Alden Mathes slipped a single through the right side before reaching home on a run-batted-in double by graduate student Dom Toso. The inning continued when senior Johnny Hipsman hit a two-run home run to right field. Both graduate student Andrew Papantonis and sophomore Jared Sprague-Lott hit singles before junior Will Gersky singled, scoring both Papantonis and Sprague-Lott.

In the seventh inning, Toso slammed a homer to left field to increase the score to 6-0 in the Spiders’ favor. The action continued in the eighth inning with the third homer of the day for the Spiders from Sprague-Lott to achieve the final score of 7-0.

The second game of the series on April 16 was full of offensive action with two homers from graduate student Christian Beal, despite the Spiders not being able to secure the win. 

VCU first got on top in the first inning by scoring one run, but the Spiders responded with two of their own. Beal knocked his first homer of the day to left field to tie the score. Toso singled through the middle and advanced to second on an error before Hipsman got an RBI single to right field, scoring Toso.

The offensive battle continued in the second with VCU adding two more runs to the board with a two-run home run. UR fought back in the bottom of the inning with a walk from Gersky, who made it home on a double from graduate student Shane Gipson. Mathes singled to right field for the last run of the inning when Gipson crossed the plate. 

Papantonis increased the Spiders’ lead in the third with a solo home run to left-center field. 

Starting junior pitcher Jeremy Neff threw a scoreless two innings before the fifth inning, allowing another three runs to give VCU the lead. Neff had four strikeouts, six hits and a single walk.

Relief pitcher senior Brenden Argomaniz entered the mound in the fifth, allowing another three runs in the inning before helping retire the side, with the Rams winning 9-5. 

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UR tied the score in the bottom of the fifth when first-year Jake Elbeery and Sprague-Lott both singled before Gersky hit a homer to left field, raising the score to 9-8. Beal then slammed his second homer of the day to left field, tying the score. 

The score remained tied until the seventh inning. Graduate student Winston Allen threw a scoreless sixth inning before the top of the seventh when VCU added another two runs to its total. Graduate student Jack Buckley entered the game in the seventh for Allen before allowing another run for the Rams. Junior Matthew Haines entered the mound for Buckley and allowed the final run of the inning before retiring the side. 

The Spiders were able to fight back in the ninth after both Haines and fifth-year Antonio Balducci helped retire the side on the mound. The Spiders were able to add another two runs to the score before falling to the Rams 13-11. 

The Spiders had a tough showing in the final game of the series on April 17. UR’s only two runs of the game came in the bottom of the first inning. 

Starting pitcher junior Eli Larson was on the mound for four innings, allowing five runs in his outing, but also collecting three strikeouts.

In the bottom of the first, Mathes got the offense going with a single to the right side before Toso brought him home with a triple to right field. Toso reached home when Papantonis hit an RBI single up the middle. 

The Spiders went through a total of six batters in the game, including Larson.

The Spiders lost to the Rams 13-2 to lose the series and lower their Atlantic 10 Conference record to 2-7. 

The Spiders are on the road next against James Madison University at 4 p.m. on April 20 in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Contact sports writer Lucia Helmers at lucia.helmers@richmond.edu. 

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