UR falls in A-10 final

Richmond seized an early lead and rallied late, but No. 1 Charlotte claimed its fourth Atlantic 10 baseball championship in six years by beating the No. 5 Spiders, 9-4, Saturday at Campbell’s Field in Camden, N.J.

Senior Mike Mergenthaler doubled twice and scored for Richmond, which ended the 2011 season at 29-27-2 as the Spiders were making their first postseason appearance since 2007.

Mergenthaler led a group of four Spiders selected to the A-10 All-Tournament Team, along with junior C Chris Cowell, junior CF Matt Zink and sophomore 3B/RHP Jacob Mayers.

Zink and Mergenthaler each had hits for Richmond in the first inning, and Mayers scored Zink with an RBI groundout to put the Spiders up 1-0.

But Charlotte (42-14) starter Joe Yermal avoided further trouble in the first and was benefited by Charlotte’s seven-run uprising over the third and fourth innings to regain control. Shane Brown ripped a two-run single up the middle in the third and a bases-loaded single by Corey Shaylor was the big blow in the fourth.

Richmond, though, which out-scored Dayton and Rhode Island by a combined 17-5 score Friday, got the bats going again in the sixth to knock Yermal out and get back in the game.

Mergenthaler’s 50th career double to right-center got the inning started and Barber scored him with a single. Cowell later doubled and two more scored thanks to an RBI groundout from Bret Williams and Adam Forrer’s RBI single to right to make the score 8-4.

That’s as close as Richmond would get as John Hamilton fired two scoreless in relief of Yermal and Bryan Hamilton pitched a scoreless ninth. Yermal went six innings and was tagged for seven hits and four runs but got the win (6-2) as the 49ers clinched the A-10 title and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Freshman Andrew Brockett – making his first start since April 10 – was dealt the loss and fell to 3-5.

Head coach Mark McQueen has improved Richmond’s win total in each of his first four seasons at the helm and the Spiders’ 29-27-2 record is the program’s first winning mark since 2007.

Saturday represented the final game for five seniors – Mergenthaler, Barber, Matt Trent, Anthony Cafagna and Daniel Clark – and all five went out in style — Mergenthaler hit .438 (7-for-16) in the tournament with two doubles, four RBI and five runs, Barber had home run, six RBI and a save, Trent fired a compete-game Friday with six strikeouts in Richmond’s 10-3 win over Dayton, Cafagna fired 4.1 innings of two run ball in Thursday’s start versus Xavier in a 5-4 win and Clark tossed an inning of relief Saturday versus Charlotte with a strikeout.

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