Mason baseball travels to Williamsburg for weekend series with William & Mary

Josh Leemhuis awaits a pitch from a Northeastern pitcher (Photo by John Irwin).
Josh Leemhuis awaits a pitch from a Northeastern pitcher (Photo by John Irwin).

When the George Mason baseball team steps onto the field of Plumeri Park in Williamsburg on Friday, it’ll look to accomplish something they haven’t done since March 17 — win a three-game series against a Colonial Athletic Association rival.

Their last CAA series victory came against Northeastern in Fairfax. This time, the opponent is the William & Mary Tribe. With a record of 26-16, 9-6 in the CAA, the Tribe sits at third in the conference. Mason, meanwhile, is last in the conference with an overall record of 14-29, 5-16 in the CAA.

For the Patriots it’s been a rough few weeks following the announcement that the program is moving to the Atlantic 10 conference in July. Since the announcement on March 25, Mason is 3-17, including a win on Wednesday against Temple in Philadelphia.

“We got out to a quick lead,” said Mason coach Bill Brown. “We’re always searching for answers and experimenting a little bit, so we switched some things in the lineup.”

One of those experiments was moving redshirt junior Josh Leemhuis to the leadoff spot.

“Josh really gave us a spark,” Brown said of Leemhuis, who was 3-4 at the plate Wednesday with three RBIs and three runs scored, including a home run. “That got us going and got us energized.”

Mason will rely on the bats of Leemhuis, who is 10-18 in his last five games, and fellow junior Blaise Fernandez, who leads the team in average (.366), doubles (17) and walks (22).

However, the Patriots will be without Tucker Tobin who, according to Brown, sprained his ankle in the game against the Owls. Tobin leads the Patriots in home runs (8) and RBIs (36).

William & Mary is powered by its pitching.

Sophomore Jason Inghram and senior John Farrell rank second and third respectively in the CAA in strikeouts, with 61 and 59. Farrell, the CAA leader in wins with seven, also holds the fourth best ERA in the conference at 2.38.

“We’re going to have to compete very well for at bats,” Brown said. “If we get into two-strike counts we need to move the baseball and make them handle it, easier said than done sometimes.

“They’re very solid on the mound obviously.”

Along with Farrell, fellow classman Brett Koehler are the two most stubborn pitchers in the conference. Combined they have allowed just 12 walks in 140 innings, meaning they like to throw strikes.

“You’re not going to be able to wait them out,” Brown said. “You’re going to have to be aggressive and look for your pitch. And when you get it, don’t pass it up.”

Both teams were swept last weekend, the Tribe by Old Dominion and the Patriots by UNC Wilmington. Coach Brown hopes the team will pick up where they left off in their win against Temple.

“What we need to carry over is our energy and a positive attitude,” Brown said. “I give our guys credit. This season has been an incredible challenge and they’ve hung in there well and they’ve competed.”

The series begins under the lights on Friday at 7 p.m. Mason junior Jared Gaynor (2-6, 5.95 ERA) is set to start the series against Farrell (7-1, 2.38 ERA).

The series continues on Saturday with a 4 p.m. first pitch. Redshirt junior Patriot Anthony Montefusco (2-5, 5.96 ERA) will matchup against Koehler (4-3, 4.06 ERA).

The series concludes with a 1 p.m start on Sunday. Inghram (5-4, 3.08 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for the Tribe. A starter for Mason is to be determined, but will likely be sophomore John Williams (2-4, 9.26 ERA).

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