UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND, Va. - The University of Richmond Spiders baseball team earned a split with the Niagara Purple Eagles on Saturday, dropping the first game of the series, 11-10, in 11 innings before defeating Niagara, 10-1, in game two. With the split, Richmond's record on the season moves to 1-3, while the Purple Eagles stand at 2-2.
On Saturday, Richmond and Niagara picked up game one of the series in the top of the fourth, where the game was halted on Friday due to darkness and weather. The two teams then played their regularly scheduled second game of the series at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday.
In game one, the Purple Eagles jumped out to an early, 7-3 lead before play had to be stopped. When the game resumed on Saturday, the Spiders bats came out hot, tying the ballgame in the bottom of the fourth with four runs. In the frame, sophomore Adam Forrer hit his first home run of the season, while junior Jacob Mayers hit a three-run blast over the fence in right field, tying the game at 7-7.
Making his collegiate debut, freshman Zak Sterling was able to quiet the Niagara bats for most of the first game. Sterling pitched a strong 4.2 innings for the Spiders, striking out five while allowing just two runs.
With the score still tied at 7-7, the Spiders took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the seventh inning. The ball continued to fly out of Pitt Field as Mayers hit his second home run of the contest, while senior Phil Ruzbarsky tallied his second homer of the season. In the game, the Spiders and Purple Eagles combined to hit nine home runs - five for the Spiders and four for Niagara.
Still trailing by two runs, the Purple Eagles rallied in the top of the ninth inning, scoring three runs to take a 10-9 lead over UR. Richmond would stage a rally of its own, however, in the bottom of the frame, forcing extra innings on a sacrifice fly off the bat of senior Bryan Conway.
In the 11th inning, Niagara took the lead for good on a solo home run from Joel Klock. Klock's shot proved to be the difference as the Purple Eagles took game one of the series, 11-10, in 11 innings.
Standouts for the Spiders in the first game included Mayers who went 2-for-5 with two homers, four RBIs and three runs scored and senior Chris Cowell who hit 2-for-4 with two-run home run.
In game two, the Spiders were the team that jumped out to the early advantage. In the bottom of the first, UR took a 3-0 lead on three-straight RBI hits from Cowell, Ruzbarsky, and Conway.
With the early lead in hand, Mayers was terrific on the mound for the Spiders. Making his second start of the season, the junior tossed eight strong innings, striking out seven batters while allowing just one earned run.
After the teams exchanged runs in the second innings, Richmond added to its lead in the fourth and fifth. In the fourth, freshman Eric Flanagan notched his first collegiate home run, while Ruzbarsky drew a bases-loaded walk. In the fifth, sophomore Mike Small had a RBI double, making the Richmond lead 7-1 after five full.
In the eighth, Conway put an exclamation point on the win for the Spiders, drilling a pitch deep over the fence in left for a three-run shot, giving Richmond its winning margin of 10-1.
Conway was the star of the second game offensively for UR, going 2-for-5 with four RBIs and a homer, while Flanagan went 3-for-5 with a solo shot and three runs scored. Ruzbarsky also continued his hot start to the year, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored, pushing his team-leading batting average to .533.
On the mound, freshman Ray Harron picked up right where Mayers left off, pitching a perfect ninth inning, striking out one.
The University of Richmond Spiders will close out their series with the Niagara Purple Eagles on Sunday. First pitch at Pitt Field is scheduled for 12 p.m.