By MIKEY BARNES
The University of Mary Washington baseball team is off to a 9-5 start in their 2017 campaign. Last year, the team went 24-15 and was ranked as high as No. 12 in the nation. Fifth year head coach, Wayne Riser and the Eagles faced some adversity immediately coming into the season when a number of key players quit or ran into ineligibility, notably some pitchers on the team. The Eagles are currently with seven pitchers on the roster, along with a number of position players who can pitch as well, though, not being their main position.
The baseball team began the season with a tough loss to Methodist in which they came back from down 4-1, to tie the score, but were unable to hold on as Methodist scored two more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to win the game.
The Eagles bounced back the following day with a 15-5 victory over Bridgewater in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Senior Nick McIntyre pitched six strong innings, allowing one earned run and striking out eight as he earned the victory. The Eagles were led at the plate by freshman Christian Hague who went 3-4 at the plate with a two doubles, a homerun and three runs batted in. Seniors Kyle Bynum and Tyler Truslow along with sophomore Stephen Johnston each contributed with two RBI’s.
The Eagles dropped their next game as well, falling to DeSales, despite a strong pitching performance by sophomore Hank Biggs. Hague had another strong performance at the plate, going 2-4 with a double and two RBI’s. The Eagles grabbed two strong victories with a two-game series sweep over Penn State-Altoona. The Eagles won the first game 9-2, with three RBI’s from Johnston, as he went 2-4 at the plate and walked twice. Senior Cole Jarvis had seven strikeouts over four innings, with sophomore Jonathan Truba taking the victory. In the second game of the series, the Eagles won 11-3, with McIntyre grabbing the win in 5.2 innings pitched and nine strikeouts, while allowing just two earned runs. Bynum and Johnston both had strong performances again, with both driving in two runs on two hits, with Johnston smacking two doubles. Junior David Slupek drove in two runs as well, with a pinch hit single for Hague.
The Eagles followed up the Penn St. double header with a double header the following day against City College of New York. Biggs got his first win on the season, with 15 strikeouts over six innings, a phenomenal performance while only allowing one hit. Sophomore Alex Shapiro closed out the victory with an inning of work and three strikeouts. Johnston went 2-4 on the game with a homerun and two runs batted in. Leadoff hitter, senior Thomas Weaver had two hits on the game and the team’s only other extra base hit with a double. The Eagles won the first game 6-1. Freshman Robert Cross started the second game for Mary Washington, pitching 2 1/3 innings, with four strikeouts while only allowing one run on one hit. The combined pitching staff of the Eagles allowed just two hits on the game, amongst six different pitchers, including Johnston who got the save. Truslow and freshman Bryce Runey drove in the two runs for Mary Washington.
The Eagles won their next game, the first game of a double header against Messiah, giving them their fifth straight victory. They dropped the second game by a score of 3-2, despite a strong pitching performance by McIntyre who allowed three runs on 5 and one third innings pitched and nine strikeouts. Sophomore Kevin France went 2-2 on the game in a substitution role, with a triple.
In their first Capital Athletic Conference game, the Eagles took on St. Mary’s (Md.). Biggs started the contest pitching 5 1/3 innings while allowing four earned runs. Senior Paul McClure earned the win with no earned runs in two innings pitched. Senior Brian Burns went 3-5, with a double and scored two runs. Weaver had two hits, with a double and an RBI. The Eagles beat the Saints of St. Mary’s, 8-7.
The Eagles lost to ranked opponent Shenandoah University by a score of 5-1. Slupek had the Eagles lone real bright spot, with a home run in the bottom of the ninth, his first of the season.
Against the 1-7 Case Western Reserve, sophomore Ramsis Ruiz went 3-5 on the game with two RBI’s and a stolen base. Johnston had two RBIs and a homerun on the game. Junior Bryan White got the win, his second of the season. The Eagles won this game in the bottom of the ninth, by a score of 9-8, being down two runs, after a Ruiz RBI single and an RBI walk by senior Cody Beacorn.
On Monday, March 13, the Eagles played a doubleheader against conference foe Penn St.-Harrisburg. The Eagles dropped the first game by a score of 3-2, despite another strong pitching performance by Biggs, who struck out eight batters of six innings, while only allowing two earned runs. Mary Washington took the second game by a score of 8-6, with McClure grabbing another victory. Weaver went 2-4 on the game, with a double, two runs batted in and two walks. Junior Reed Farrier went 2-4, with two doubles and a run batted in.
The Eagles are led into the season by Hague, who currently leads the team with a .405 batting average. Johnston is leading the team with two home runs and 15 runs batted in. Biggs leads the team in strikeouts with 33. McIntyre is the current team leader with 3.05 Earned Run Average.
The Eagles will be back in action on March 16, away against conference foe Christopher Newport University.