By STEVE SILVERTHORNE
The University of Mary Washington baseball team won its Capital Athletic Conference doubleheader over Frostburg State last Sunday afternoon, April 10. The Eagles won the first game 2-0, and finished off the doubleheader sweep by taking the nightcap, 7-6, on a walk-off single. The pair of wins improved UMW to 21-12 overall and 9-9 in CAC play. The win secured the fourth seed for Mary Washington heading into the conference tournament, which gets underway this afternoon. Despite the pair of losses, the Bobcats still clinched the No. 2 seed in the CAC tournament.
“It shows a lot about how tough the conference is, that any team can go out and win regardless of seeding and it not be labeled as an upset,” junior Shane Sixsmith said. “Now going into the playoffs, it’s the team that wants it the most that will win the conference title.”
In the opener of the double-dip, the Eagles’ first two hitters, Sixsmith and freshman Beattie Southerland, scored the only two runs of the game in the first inning. Sixsmith singled, stole second, and advanced to third on an error that allowed Southerland to reach base. Southerland then stole second, with Sixsmith stealing home on the throw. Junior Brent Steffey then roped an RBI single to bring Southerland home for the second and final run of the game.
Sophomore Michael Straub earned the win for the Eagles, as he allowed five hits and two walks while striking out six in his six innings of work. A fellow sophomore wrapped up Straub’s impressive start, as Torey Mancari notched his second save of the season and struck out two in his seventh inning appearance.
The second game saw the Eagles fall behind in the first inning, when the Bobcats Doug Anuszewski smoked an RBI single to give Frostburg State an early 1-0 lead. UMW responded with a big second inning, highlighted by junior Santino Rosanova’s RBI double and Sixsmith’s two RBI single. The Eagles tacked on another run in the bottom of the third, giving Mary Washington a 4-1 lead.
The Bobcats offense erupted for five runs on six hits in the fourth inning to take a 6-4 advantage. The Eagles got one back in the bottom of the fifth, when Southerland scored on a wild pitch, to pull within one of Frostburg State.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Eagles desperately needed a rally. Down a run with only three outs standing between UMW and a loss, senior Eric Rehbein led off with a hit by pitch to put the tying run on first. Freshman Mitchell Herringshaw then drew a walk, moving the tying run to second and putting the winning run on base. Senior Jackson Clement came to the plate and mashed a double to right center, bringing Rehbein home to tie the game, but Herringshaw was cut down at the plate trying to score the winning run. With Clement at third after advancing on the throw home, Frostburg State decided to intentionally walk freshmen Jake Rudman and Connor Finnerty to set up a double play opportunity and make a force out at any base. It all ended up being for not, as Rosanova provided the game-winning single to right field that scored Clement and gave UMW the dramatic come from behind win.
After closing out the first game, Mancari won the second in relief, allowing one hit in the top of the seventh with one strikeout. The pitching for both teams was far from stellar and relied heavily on the bullpens, as the two teams combined to use 11 pitchers.
With a season that has gone up and down for the Eagles, they seem to have found their stride and at an opportune time, winning four of their last five games to wrap up the regular season.
“We started off hot and then hit a little road bump, but now we have come back as a team and we are definitely on the right track to making a solid push through the conference tournament and hopefully into regionals as well,” junior Matt Abramson said.
After a pair of rainouts, the fourth seeded Eagles will visit No. 3 seed St. Mary’s College today at 3:30 p.m. in first round CAC tournament action. The Eagles went 1-2 against St. Mary’s this season, splitting a doubleheader the last time these two teams met.