Spiders clinch A10 Tournament berth

Richmond, VA (WWBT)- Playing his final home game in a Richmond Spider uniform, redshirt junior Adam McConnell clinched an Atlantic 10 Tournament berth with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 14th inning.  With the 3-2 win over Fordham at Pitt Field, the Spiders improve to 27-24 overall and to 14-10 in conference play.  Fordham ends the season at 22-34 and 12-12 in league action.

With the win, Richmond will be the No. 5 seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament and will play the No. 4-seeded Massachusetts Minutemen on Wednesday, May 23.  The victory also gave the Spiders back-to-back A-10 Tournament berths for the first time since the team made it four-straight years from 2002-2005.

Richmond received two stellar pitching performances in the victory from sophomores Andrew Blum and Andrew Brockett.  Getting the start, Blum was solid in his 6.1 innings of work.  Blum allowed just one run on six hits while striking out four.  Out of the bullpen, Brockett had a remarkable outing to earn his second win of the season.  The sophomore hurler pitched the final 7.2 innings, allowing just one run on five hits while striking out seven.

Along with McConnell, Richmond was led offensively by senior Chris Cowell, who went 3-for-5 on the afternoon with two doubles and a RBI.  Junior Jacob Mayers also had a nice day, going 2-for-4 with a RBI.

The Spiders wasted little time getting on the scoreboard again on Saturday, taking a quick 2-0 lead over the Rams.  After a sacrifice bunt, runners were on second and third with one out for Cowell.  One of eight graduates playing their final game at Pitt Field, the senior came through with a RBI single through the left side, plating Matt Zink.  One batter later, Mayers made the lead 2-0 with a RBI single of his own, finding a hole on the left side of the infield.

With the 2-0 lead, Blum was able to settle down on the mound for the Spiders.  The sophomore got through the first four innings unscathed but ran in to some trouble in the top of the fifth.  Fordham was able to cut the lead in half on a Ryan Phelan single, but after five complete Richmond maintained a 2-1 lead.

Still leading by one, the Rams battled back to tie the game at 2-2 in the top of the eighth on a Ryan Lee RBI single.

The Spiders threatened to end the game in the bottom of the ninth, but with runners on first and second and one out, Richmond fell victim to a double play.  With the runners going on a hit-and-run, Zink lined sharply to center field.  The Fordham center fielder then threw to second, getting Joey Vecchione before he could get back to end the frame.  On the day, there were six traditional double plays, with the Rams turning five of them to end Spider threats in the first, fifth, ninth, 11th, and 13th innings.

Defense played a key role in not allowing Fordham to take a lead in the extra innings.  In the 13th, the Rams had a runner on first with two outs.  On a grounder hit to second, Richmond's Adam Forrer bobbled the ball.  Looking to capitalize, the Ram runner tried for third base, but Forrer made a great play, throwing the runner out with a great throw to third base.

Then in the top of the 14th inning, Fordham came within inches of taking the lead.  With a runner on second and one out, the Rams' Phelan hit a dribbler down the first base line.  The Spider first baseman, Bryan Conway, came in to field the ball and tossed it to the pitcher Brockett covering at first for an out.  Looking to score from second base on the slow-developing play, the Fordham runner took off for home, but a great throw from Brockett to the catcher Cowell nailed the runner at the plate and sent the game to the bottom half.

In the bottom of the 14th, Spider pinch hitter Bret Williams drew a lead off walk to get on base.  Looking to simply move the runner in to scoring position, Mike Small laid down a great bunt.  Fielded cleanly by the Fordham pitcher Jeremy Adel, the Rams' hurler threw wide of the first baseman.  The throwing error moved the runners to second and third with no outs.

After an intentional walk to Zink, the bases were loaded with no outs for McConnell.  With six players in the infield for Fordham, McConnell laced a sharply-hit grounder back up the middle, scoring the winning run for Richmond.  The Spiders' 3-2 victory was their third in extra innings this year and completed the series sweep of Fordham.

The Richmond Spiders baseball team now heads to the Bronx for the 2012 Atlantic 10 Tournament.  The No. 5-seeded Spiders will face the No. 4-seeded Massachusetts Minutemen on Wednesday, May 23.  First pitch at Houlihan Field is scheduled for 12 p.m.

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