UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND, Va. - The University of Richmond Spiders baseball team used a seven-run first inning to defeat the visiting Fordham Rams on Friday afternoon, 8-5, at Pitt Field. With the win, Richmond improves to 26-24 overall and to 13-10 in Atlantic 10 conference play. With the loss, Fordham drops to 22-33 on the season and to 12-11 in league action.
Redshirt junior Adam McConnell had a tremendous day at the plate on Friday, going 4-for-5 with two RBIs to lead the way for the Spiders. Sophomore Adam Forrer had a pair of hits, including a two-run triple while junior Jacob Mayers went 3-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored. Senior Chris Cowell, Bryan Conway, and sophomore Mike Small each drove in a run on the afternoon.
Freshman Zak Sterling (6-1) was again terrific for the Spiders on Friday afternoon, earning his sixth win of the season. Sterling tossed seven innings, allowing just two runs on three hits. The Salisbury, Md., native also struck out seven on the day. Out of the bullpen, sophomore Andrew Brockett pitched the final 1.2 innings to tally his fifth saved of the season. Brockett allowed one hit while striking out two.
In the top of the first inning, Fordham took a quick 1-0 lead, scoring after a Richmond wild pitch. The advantage would be short lived, however, as the Spiders answered back in a big way in the bottom half.
With runners on first and third with one out, Cowell tied the game with a sacrifice fly to deep right field, scoring Matt Zink easily from third base. That's when the scoring started in earnest for the Spiders. The next seven batters would reach base safely for Richmond, scoring six two-run out to take early control of the game.
Highlighting the seven-batter stretch were Forrer and McConnell, who each drove in two runs. Forrer had a triple to clear the bases, while McConnell has a two-run single. Also tallying RBIs in the frame were Conway and Small, who each had run-scoring singles. After one complete inning, Richmond led Fordham, 7-1.
With a six-run lead in hand, Sterling found his grove on the mound. The freshman hurler allowed just one more run in his seven inning of work, allowing a score on a wild pitch in the top of the sixth.
Just like it had in the bottom of the first, Richmond answered the Rams' run with one of their own in the bottom of the sixth. After Phil Ruzbarsky reached base on a hit-by-pitch, he moved to second base on a passed ball. Two batters later, Mayers plated the senior with a RBI single to right center, making the Spider lead 8-2 after six complete.
In the top of the eighth, the Rams tried to make it interesting. Fordham plated three runs in the frame, cutting the Richmond lead to 8-5 headed to the ninth. In the final inning, Brockett shut the door, recording a 1-2-3 top half to secure the win for the Spiders.
With results around the Atlantic 10 on Friday, the Spiders head in to the final day of the regular season tied for fifth place with Massachusetts at 13-10. St. Louis, Dayton, and Rhode Island have all clinched spots in the six-team conference championship. If Richmond wins against Fordham on Saturday, the Spiders would clinch a berth. If the Spiders fall, they could still make the tournament but would need help.
The Richmond Spiders will conclude the regular season on Saturday when the team will play host to the Fordham Rams at 12 p.m. Senior Day festivities at Pitt Field will begin shortly before first pitch.