Sophomore Jake Mayers didn’t want to leave the game.
Bucknell University loaded the bases on the sophomore starting pitcher in the ninth inning, and with only one out it looked as if University of Richmond head coach Mark McQueen might call on his bullpen to finish off the Bisons. But McQueen decided to say with Mayers.
On the next pitch, Buckell pinch hitter Travis Clark hit a hard line drive at Spider third baseman Nick Poulos. Poulos caught the line drive inches from the ground and tagged third base to double off the runner and give Mayers his first college win.
“It was a little shaky after the first two inning when I gave up the two home runs,” Mayers said. “But you can’t let the first two innings get at you.”
Mayers said he struggled with his curve ball the first few innings, but said he became looser as the game went on.
“Early in the game I was spiking [my curveball] into the ground,” he said. “But once I got my curveball going I felt really confident.”
McQueen asked Mayers how he was feeling after the eighth inning. Even though Mayers had already thrown 107 pitches, he told his coach that he wanted to finish the game.
“I had so much adrenaline in me,” Mayers said. “I didn’t want to give up the ball.”
McQueen said Mayers is the type of pitcher that gets stronger as the game goes on.
“He said he felt great after the eighth inning,” McQueen said. “He was still throwing the ball well.”
Mayers put himself in a difficult situation in the ninth inning. On a ground ball back to him, he fielded what had the potential to be a game ending double play. Mayers’ throw to freshman Mike Small was out of shortstop’s range, a play that led to McQueen’s trip to the mound.
“I think if that guy would have gotten a hit off of him I would have gone to a reliever,” he said. “But after he threw the ball away at second — I didn’t want to take him out after that.”
McQueen said that early in the games Mayers can get too amped up and overthrow a little bit, but as the game goes on he settles down.
“That’s just the way he is,” McQueen said.
The Spiders were down 2-0 after Bucknell’s two solo home runs in the first two innings, but scored a run in the bottom of the second when Poulos singled in junior Derek Boliek. They added three runs during the forth inning on a Bucknell error and a two-RBI single by senior Mike Mergenthaler to make the game 4-2.
“Late in the game we had some shadows in between the mound and home plate and it was hard to see.” “I don’t blame the guys a lot because its hard to pick up the spin on the ball when you get the shadows in there. I thought we stroked the ball well. We had nine hits — we just need to focus on our situational hitting.”
Poulos, a freshman from Richmond’s Douglas Freeman High School who is starting in the place of injured junior Adam McConnell went 2 for 3 with one RBI. McConnell has a torn labrum in his hip, and it is unsure if he will play this season.
“He had surgery in December,” McQueen said.” It’s usually about a four to six month recovery. He wants to come back this season, but we’re going to take it on a week-by-week basis. Right now he’s ahead of schedule.”
The Spiders will play Bucknell in the second of a three game series tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. at Pitt Field.
Contact staff writer Zak Kozuchowski at email@example.com