Senior Jacob Mayers starred in the University of Richmond baseball team’s victory over The College of William and Mary Tuesday, providing pivotal pitching and offense.
The Spiders beat the Tribe 5-4 in a walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth inning, as a result of Mayers’ game-winning double. The win advanced the team’s record to 18-9.
Richmond scored first, with singles from junior second baseman Adam Forrer and senior first baseman Bret Williams in the first and third innings, respectively, but William and Mary answered back in the fourth, sixth and seventh to claim a 4-2 lead going into the eighth inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, Richmond scored two runs without ever getting a hit. Mayers, Williams and Forrer were walked to load the bases, and senior pinch hitter Chris Bell was awarded first base after being smacked in the helmet by a pitch to earn the first RBI of the inning.
Junior shortstop Mike Small then grounded out with a sacrifice bunt to score Williams and tie the game 4-4.
In the top of the ninth, Mayers then entered the game as the closing pitcher, his first time pitching at home since the end of last season, after sustaining a back injury that was supposed to end his collegiate pitching career. He gave up two singles to start, but then got two strikeouts and a groundout to end the inning and stop the Tribe from scoring.
After senior center fielder Matt Zink walked to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning and freshman right fielder Tanner Stanley grounded out, Mayers helped the Spiders earn the win by hitting a double to end the game.
Mayers said he had just gotten lucky with the hit, but that he loved that element of the game: being able to help his team out, whether from the pitcher’s mound or the batter’s box.
Having witnessed Mayers’ past successes firsthand as his teammate of four years, Zink was happy to see Mayers back on the mound, he said.
“[Having Mayers back] means the world,” Zink said. “Year in and year out, he’s been such a workhorse for us.”
Coach Mark McQueen was also pleased to have Mayers back in a pitching role, he said. With several of the pitchers in Richmond’s bullpen dealing with injuries, adding Mayers to the list of available pitchers has made the team stronger, McQueen said.
Both Mayers and McQueen thought that his lat injury would prevent him from pitching this year, they said. But after being moved from third base to designated hitter, Mayers decided he wanted to give pitching another try so he could contribute to the team more than just from the plate, McQueen said.
Since his return to in-game pitching on Saturday at La Salle, Mayers has not had any pain in his arm or lat, he said. McQueen said they were holding their breath that he would stay healthy.
The team has gained a few players back from illness and injury since the last time it played at Pitt Field. Sophomore Ryan Cook pitched for the first time since March 15, after being sidelined with a sore arm, and allowed two earned runs with a strikeout in one inning of relief. Although he officially returned to the lineup last weekend at La Salle, Williams played at home for the first time since contracting the mumps, and went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Although the team is still not back at full health, McQueen is happy with the Spiders’ recent performance, he said. Currently, the team’s fielding percentage (.975), batting average (.295) and earned-run average (3.72) are all in good places, he said, and he feels confident in the probability for success going into the weekend.
The Spiders will travel to D.C. this weekend to face A-10 rival George Washington University in a three-game series beginning Friday at 4 p.m.