PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - The University of Richmond Spiders claimed their first Atlantic 10 conference win of the season on a frigid day in Philadelphia on Saturday, beating the La Salle Explorers, 2-1. With the win, the Spiders improve their record to 14-10 and to 1-1 in conference play. La Salle falls to 15-11 and to 3-2 in league action with the loss.
Headlining the Richmond effort on the afternoon was freshman starter Zak Sterling (3-1), who had a terrific day on the mound. Sterling pitched seven strong innings, allowing just one run on five hits while striking out a pair. Senior Alex Maffett closed the game out for the Spiders, pitching the final two innings to earn his second save of the season.
At the plate, seniors Chris Cowell and Phil Ruzbarsky each had a RBI for Richmond, while classmate Bryan Conway had the only extra-base hit for either team - a double in the top of the seventh inning.
After three scoreless innings, the Explorers took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth on a RBI from Kevin Conroy.
While the Spiders offense was slow to come around, Sterling and the Spider defense kept the game within striking range. Senior Adam McConnell made a pair of stellar plays at third base, while Conway made a diving stop at first to halt a La Salle rally.
Having still not collected a hit on the afternoon, Richmond broke through in the top of the seventh. Sophomore Mike Small broke up the no-hit bid with an infield single. After junior Jacob Mayers singled to left field, both runners moved in to scoring position at second and third on a wild pitch.
On a 3-2 count, Cowell singled sharply to left field, scoring Small and tying the game at 1-1. Next up was Ruzbarsky, who delivered with a sacrifice fly to left field, giving the Spiders their first lead of the day.
With Sterling's day done, Maffett came out of the bullpen and pitched very effectively. Maffett didn't allow a hit and struck out three while walking just one to secure the win for Richmond, 2-1.
The Richmond Spiders will close out their three-game series with the La Salle Explorers on Sunday in Philadelphia. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.