BRONX, N.Y. - The Richmond Spiders were unable to stage a late comeback on Friday afternoon, dropping a 9-5 decision to the No. 2-seeded Dayton Flyers in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament. With the loss, the No. 5-seeded Spiders fall to 29-25 on the season, while the Flyers improve to 30-28. Richmond now moves to the loser's bracket in hopes of reaching its fourth A-10 final in school history.
With the loss, the Spiders will now play the winner of the No. 1 Saint Louis and No. 6 Saint Joseph's game later this afternoon. If Saint Louis wins, Richmond will face the Billikens tonight at 7:30 p.m. If Saint Joseph's wins, the Spiders will play the Hawks on Saturday morning. First pitch for that potential game is still to be announced.
Redshirt junior Matt Zink drove in a pair of runs on the afternoon to lead the Spiders, while senior Phil Ruzbarsky had two hits including a solo home run. Senior Bryan Conway also had a RBI, while redshirt junior Ryan Mallory had two hits and scored a run.
Despite taking the loss, sophomore Andrew Blum (6-4) pitched valiantly for the Spiders. Tossing a career-high 8.2 innings, Blum allowed nine runs, but only three of which were earned.
In the top of the first, the Flyers struck with a leadoff home run off the bat of Brian Blasik. The solo shot to left field gave Dayton an early, 1-0 lead over the Spiders.
One inning later, Richmond answered back to tie the game. Leading off, Ruzbarsky singled to the pitcher, but a bad throw to first from the UD hurler allowed the senior to advance all the way to third base with nobody out. Next up was Conway, who hit a double down the right field line to score Ruzbarsky. After two complete innings, the game was tied 1-1.
Errors were the story for Richmond in the third and fourth innings. In the frames, the Flyers scored five runs on five Spider errors, taking a 7-1 lead over Richmond after three and a half innings.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Spiders cut in to the lead, making the Dayton advantage 7-2. With two outs, singles from Ryan Mallory and Mike Small put runners on first and second for Zink. On a 1-0 count, Zink laced a double down the left field line, scoring Mallory from second easily. The double was Zink's 11th of the season and made the Flyer lead five.
The Spiders continued to cut in to the Dayton lead in the bottom of the fifth. After two walks and a hit-by-pitch, the bases were loaded with one out and Adam Forrer at the plate. On the second pitch of the at-bat, a ball got past the UD catcher allowing Chris Cowell to score from third on the passed ball. Richmond was unable to slice further in to the Dayton advantage, however, stranding runners at second and third. After a five complete innings, Dayton held a 7-3 lead.
Two innings later, Ruzbarsky made the Dayton advantage three with just one swing. In the bottom of the seventh, the senior outfielder crushed a 1-1 offering deep over the fence in right field. Ruzbarsky's 10th homer of the season, his second of the tournament, made the score 7-4 in favor of Dayton after seven complete.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Spiders again mounted a rally. After a walk, a single from Mallory, and a fielder's choice, runners were on first and third with one out for Zink. Swinging at the first pitch, Zink lined out to right field, scoring the runner from third on the sacrifice fly. McConnell followed with a single, but with runners at first and second, Jacob Mayers struck out to end the threat. Headed to the ninth, the Flyers led the Spiders, 7-5.
After four shutout innings, the Flyers answered back in the top of the ninth, scoring a pair of insurance runs to extend their lead over the Spiders to 9-5. Richmond was unable to stage a ninth-inning rally and fell to Dayton, 9-5.
For the latest news on Spider baseball, be sure to check RichmondSpiders.com or follow the team on Twitter - @SpiderBaseball.