The Spiders baseball team extended its winning streak to four games and completed its second sweep of the season against the Wagner Seahawks with solid pitching and strong offense last weekend.
Sophomore Jon de Marte pitched the first game of the series Friday, which the team won 8-6, and allowed three runs through five innings.
The second and third innings were tough for de Marte, he said, especially the third when he walked three hitters in a row. But once he made an adjustment to his pitching mechanics, de Marte was able to finish the fourth and fifth innings quickly and without allowing a run, coach Mark McQueen said.
“[De Marte] is a bulldog out there,” McQueen said. “I knew he’d give us at least five innings. I wasn’t sure if he was going to make it [during the third inning], but he had a great fourth and I was glad he was able to get through five.”
The Spiders put together a four-run third inning to regain the lead from the Seahawks, which de Marte said made pitching in the fourth and fifth innings more comfortable.
Senior centerfielder Matt Zink, who went 2-for-3 and batted in two runs, wasn’t worried when both the pitching and the offense were working from behind at the beginning of the game, he said.
“It’s part of the game,” Zink said. “Every once in a while we’re going to be flat to start. It’s okay to not always have the lead. We didn’t panic, but we knew we needed to pick [de Marte] up.”
The Spiders scored eight runs on nine hits to help de Marte earn the win, advancing his win-loss record to 3-0.
On Saturday, the Spiders beat Wagner 4-2 with freshman right fielder Tanner Stanley, freshman designated hitter Jansen Fraser and senior first baseman Bret Williams bringing in the runs.
Starting pitcher sophomore Zak Sterling struck out five batters in five innings and allowed two earned runs. He was relieved by sophomore James Lively, who earned his first save of the season, striking out three and allowing two hits in four scoreless innings.
Sunday, the Spiders were slow to start, but strong offensive performances in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings allowed them to overpower Wagner 10-5 and complete the sweep of the series.
Each starter got at least one hit, and seniors Williams and Jacob Mayers went 3-for-5 and 2-for-5, respectively.
Mayers’ two hits, a single and a home run, marked his first hits in his last nine at-bats and his first home run of the season. Last season, Mayers hit 10 home runs and had the second-highest slugging percentage on the team (.586).
Junior Andrew Blum started for the Spiders and pitched five and two-thirds innings. He allowed three runs on six hits with five strikeouts.
McQueen thought Blum had struggled with commanding his pitches a bit, but attributed some of that to the 40-degree weather, he said. Overall, though Blum allowed batters to get on base, McQueen was pleased that he was able to prevent most of them from scoring, he said.
Sunday’s game was highlighted by two defensive plays in right field by Stanley.
McQueen called Stanley’s diving catch tremendous, and said that stopping that line drive from becoming a double was huge in squelching a Seahawks rally before it could begin in the top of the sixth inning.
Scott Burns, Richmond’s assistant director of athletic public relations, tweeted, “I’ve been doing this baseball SID [Sports Information Director] thing for a while now and Tanner Stanley just made the best catch I’ve seen.”
Stanley reached base four times, on three walks and one hit. Stanley credited his performance and the team’s success to a collective realization that the first two games of the series were closer than they should have been, he said.
“I think everyone realized if we let this team hang around, they might sneak a win off us,” Stanley said. “We realized they didn’t belong on the same field with us. So today we were more focused.”
The Spiders will play Old Dominion University at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at Pitt Field. The team will play again at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday against Longwood University.
Contact staff writer Erin Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org