By STEVE SILVERTHORNE
The 23rd ranked Mary Washington baseball team lost two key conference matchups to Wesley College last Saturday, March 21. After beating Wesley in a hard fought 4-3 decision just two days earlier, the Eagles had some struggles in this past Saturday’s games. The pair of losses dropped the Eagles to 5-4 in Capital Athletic Conference play.
“It was a tough loss, especially knowing that we did not play at the caliber level we know we can play at,” junior Ryan Engelking said. “Fortunately, it does not hurt our team too bad in the conference, because all the top teams have similar records, and if we can win out the rest of our games, we will remain on top of the conference.”
The Eagles had some offensive woes in the first game of the doubleheader. UMW got just two hits as a team against Wesley pitcher DJ Keckler – a pair of singles by freshmen Mitch Herringshaw and Beattie Southerland. Herrinshaw’s hit in the bottom of the second inning drove in senior Jackson Clement for the only Eagles run of the game.
UMW senior Parker Talbert pitched pretty well, as he allowed two runs (one earned) on nine hits in four innings. The defense behind Talbert and reliever sophomore Torey Mancari didn’t help the pair of pitchers, as Eagles fielders had three errors in the game that led to two unearned runs. In the end, the offense couldn’t scrape together enough runs, as Wesley took the 3-1 victory.
The second game saw things flip for the Eagles, as UMW snapped out of their offensive funk, but their pitching left them. Mary Washington slugged 14 hits in the game, six of the nine starters recorded at least one hit, and four Eagles had multi-hit games.
The offensive attack was powered by junior leadoff man Shane Sixsmith, who recorded a game high four hits in the loss. Clement also had an impressive day at the plate, as he added a double and a pair of singles.
The pitching dropped off from the first game, as freshman Jake Blake took the loss after he pitched three innings, surrendered eight hits, five runs (four earned) and struck out four. The porous defense didn’t do the Eagles any favors, as they committed four more errors in the second game of the twinball that led to three unearned runs. In the end the Wolverines took the 8-6 win.
“We know what we have to do, and that is just combine the pitching we had in the first game with our hitting in the second game, and if we can put those two together in a game than we will be a tough team to beat,” junior Matthew Abramson said. “It is still early on in the season and we can wrap up first place in the conference if we just go out there and play the way we are capable of playing.”
Hopes are still high for the Eagles, but the CAC is an extremely difficult conference with three teams in contention to be nationally ranked (Mary Washington, Salisbury and Wesley). Those top three teams all have practically the same conference records, making the conference title anyone’s to claim.
UMW played an out of conference doubleheader against Gallaudet University this past Sunday, March 20, and took both games (5-3, 8-0) to improve to 15-5 overall on the season.
The Eagles have another key matchup tonight, March 24, when they host St. Mary’s College at 3 p.m.