Mason stretches losing streak to four games with 7-5 home loss to Richmond

Junior catcher Tucker Tobin steps up to bat against the Richmond Spiders (Photo courtesy of Mason Athletics).
Junior catcher Tucker Tobin steps up to bat against the Richmond Spiders (Photo courtesy of Mason Athletics).

When George Mason freshman shortstop Brandon Gum grounded out in the ninth inning to end Wednesday’s game against Richmond, he stranded redshirt junior Josh Leemhuis, the tying run, on first base. It was a common occurrence for the Patriots in a 7-5 loss at home to the University of Richmond.

The loss extended Mason’s losing streak to four straight games and it was the second loss in as many days to the Spiders (14-3), the other coming on a 11-2 throttling at Pitt Field in Richmond on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, the Patriots (7-9, 1-2) stranded 12 base runners, including leaving the bases loaded in the first inning and two runners on twice in the seventh and ninth innings.

“When you have plenty of chances and little productivity you just have to work through it,” said Mason coach Bill Brown. “Teams go through stretches where you just don’t play well, I get that, and we aren’t right now.”

The Spiders started the scoring early in the first inning but the Patriots responded by tying the game in the home half of the inning. Richmond grabbed a 4-1 lead in the third only to surrender three runs to allow Mason to tie the score in the bottom of the inning.

Mason red-shirt freshman pitcher Chris Payne was tabbed with the loss despite allowing no earned runs. Payne pitched 2 2/3 innings, allowing just one hit while striking out four and walking two batters.

Richmond sophomore Joey Vecchione reached base to lead off the top of the fourth inning after Mason red-shirt sophomore Andrew Sable booted a ball while ranging to his right.

Spiders coach Mark McQueen called for a hit and run with junior Cory Moheit at the plate. The single moved Vecchione to third and he would later score on a 6-3 groundout by senior Chris Bell. The run gave the Spiders a 5-4 lead —the last run scored until the eighth inning.

The eventual game winning run was scored when Bell blasted a two-run home run in the eighth inning, Richmond junior Mike Small scored on the homer after he hit a one-out double to left field. After the top of the eighth the Spiders had a 7-4 lead.

Mason managed to mount a rally in the ninth inning.

Junior catcher Tucker Tobin led off the inning with a single. Designated hitter Anthony Montefusco drew a one-out walk, when sophomore catcher Ray Toto hit into a fielder’s choice, putting runners on the corners. Leemhuis hit an RBI single to narrow the lead to 7-5. But, the rally ended with Gum’s groundout.

“If you weren’t getting any chances at all then that’s a whole separate set of issues, then you have problems” Brown said. “But we’re getting opportunities and we’ll cash them in as we move along.”

Entering the game, Mason was 5-1 in Fairfax on the season. However the loss to Richmond was the sixth loss for the Patriots in the team’s last eight games. Brown hopes that the team’s play will change for the better on their home diamond at Spuhler Field.

“I’m hoping now that we’ve gotten back home it’ll be different,” Brown said. “It’s just frustrating right now that we’ve gone through a tough streak.”

The game against Richmond was the first of an eight-game home stand for Mason; six of those games will be against Colonial Athletic Association rivals Northeastern University and James Madison University.

“This is big,” said Brown of the team’s upcoming conference heavy schedule. “There are certain things you have to do in this league in order to be able to advance to the conference tournament. You have to have success in the regular season and you have to take care of business at home. Quite honestly, good teams win at home.”

The weekend series against Northeastern begins with a 3 p.m. start on Friday at Spuhler Field. It is Mason’s Game of the Week, and all students in attendance will receive a hot dog and soda.

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