After salvaging the series by winning the last of three games against St. Joseph’s University, the University of Richmond baseball players and coaches gathered near home plate to have their heads shaved in support of children’s cancer research.
Feelings of consternation showed on the faces of some of the players who were more emotionally attached to their hair, but the team was happy to support the cause, junior second baseman Adam Forrer said.
“We’ve been pushing to get donations,” Forrer said. “Shaving our heads today is a way to show solidarity with the kids, and show them they’re not the only ones who are bald.”
The team has raised $6,612 for the Vs. Cancer Foundation, which is “dedicated to saving kids’ lives by empowering athletes and communities to fund lifesaving childhood cancer efforts,” according to the program’s website.
Senior Jake Mayers, whose grandfather died from brain cancer, thought the team’s shaving their heads was a great way to show support for the cause, he said.
“I think it’s awesome,” Mayers said. “It makes the kids feel like there’s someone out there supporting them besides doctors, that just normal people are too. It’s amazing.”
In just his second start of the season, Mayers pitched a complete game on Sunday, which the Spiders won 2-1.
After his first start, Mayers said his arm felt fatigued after just five innings, and that he didn’t envision himself throwing a complete game. But on Sunday, he said his arm had been feeling much stronger, which enabled him to pitch all nine innings.
The Spiders lost the first two games of the series, and losing the third would have given the team a .500 winning percentage in conference play, which coach Mark McQueen wanted to avoid, he said.
“Today was a must-win for us, and Jake did a great job of getting us there. He was remarkable.”
The win on Sunday advanced the Spiders’ record to 24-14 overall, and 7-5 against A-10 rivals.
On Friday, the team lost 9-7 in a 12-inning game that stretched over two days because of lightning and a tornado warning.
The game was suspended after the tenth inning on Friday afternoon, when the score was tied 6-6, because lightning was seen in the area. The teams resumed play on Saturday morning, before Saturday’s regularly scheduled game.
Friday’s starting pitcher, Zak Sterling, struggled for the second time in as many starts, lasting only three innings and giving up five earned runs on six hits and three walks. In his previous start, he lasted two innings with three earned runs on three hits.
McQueen is slightly concerned about Sterling, he said, but he is hoping that working with him on his pitching mechanics will help the reigning A-10 Rookie of the Year return to form.
“[Sterling is] a little out of his rhythm,” McQueen said. “Those were probably the worst two outings of his career, because last year he was lights out. We’re working on getting the old Zak back.”
Pitching as well as poor defense proved to be problems in Saturday’s 3-7 loss, Forrer said, as miscues in the seventh inning led to the Hawks scoring four runs, and the Spiders were unable to make up the deficit.
The offense went quiet on Saturday, getting only six hits to score three runs. No Spider had more than one hit, and Forrer was on base the most, going 0-for-1 with three walks.
“It’s tough to lose two in a day,” Forrer said. “So it was nice to come back and win [on Sunday]. Physically I don’t think [playing both games Saturday] had an impact because it was only a couple extra innings. Mentally it’s a little tougher to clear the loss in that short of time, but in sports, especially in baseball, you have to learn to not dwell on the past and prepare for your next games in order to be successful.”
The Spiders’ next game will be on Tuesday at University of Virginia, before they return to Pitt Field to play an in-conference series against St. Louis University starting on Friday.
Contact staff writer Erin Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org