HIGH POINT, N.C. - The University of Richmond Spiders baseball team used a seven-run fifth inning to notch its eighth-straight win on Wednesday night, defeating the High Point Panthers, 8-4, at Williard Stadium. With the victory, Richmond improves to 8-3 on the season, while the Panthers fall to 8-7 on the year.
At the plate, the Spiders were led by freshman Eric Flanagan, who set a career-high in hits with a 4-for-4 performance. Flanagan had a RBI double with a run scored. Redshirt junior Adam McConnell had a two-run triple and scored a pair of runs, while senior Phil Ruzbarsky had a pair of hits and a RBI.
On the mound, senior Alex Maffett (2-0) made his first career start, pitching 5.1 innings in earning his second win of the season. Maffett allowed just three earned runs on the afternoon. Out of the bullpen, freshman James Lively made a very successful collegiate debut, pitching the final 3.2 innings to record his first save. Lively allowed just one run on three hits, striking out the side in the eighth.
The eight-game winning streak is the longest in the McQueen Era for the Spiders and the best stretch since Richmond won eight in a row during the 2007 season.
In a quick moving game, the first four innings were a pitcher's duel in High Point, as both team's starters were throwing the ball well, not allowing a run to get pushed across in the first four innings. For the Spiders, Maffett was the definition of efficient early on, needing just 15 pitches to get six outs. Headed to the fifth, the game was still tied, 0-0.
Finally in the top of the fifth, the Spiders broke through with their biggest inning of the young season. After a leadoff single and stolen base from sophomore Adam Forrer, Flanagan plated him with a double to right center to get Richmond on the board first. After a Mike Small single and a strikeout, McConnell cleared the bases with a triple down the left-field line - his first triple of the season. Junior Jacob Mayers followed, hitting a sharp grounder to first. Instead of taking the out, the HPU first baseman came home but his throw to the plate was late, allowing McConnell to score and push the Richmond lead to 4-0.
After a walk to senior Chris Cowell, runners were on first and second for Ruzbarsky. On a 0-1 pitch, Ruzbarsky singled on a soft liner to right field, scoring Mayers from second. With senior Bryan Conway at the dish, a wild pitch moved the runners in to scoring position at second and third. The senior came through with a sacrifice fly to right field, bringing home Cowell. Richmond then took advantage of some High Point mishaps as Ruzbarsky scored after a passed ball and wild pitch. Through four and a half, the Spiders led the Panthers, 7-0.
After High Point answered with three runs in the bottom of the sixth, Richmond answered with a run in the top of the seventh. After a walk and stolen base from McConnell to leadoff the frame, Cowell drove him in with a sharply hit single down the left-field line, giving the Spiders an 8-3 advantage.
High Point scored a run in the bottom of the seventh, but Lively wouldn't allow another as the freshman pitched a perfect final two innings to nail down the win for the Spiders, 8-4.
The Richmond Spider baseball team will return to Pitt Field this weekend to begin a 12-game home stand. The Spiders will host the Quinnipiac Bobcats for a three-game set starting on Friday at 2:30 p.m. Live stats and live video for all three contests will be available at RichmondSpiders.com.