UR rallies to take finale from Saint Louis

Richmond bombed four more home runs, including a game-winning three-run shot from senior RF Mike Mergenthaler in the eighth inning, as the Spiders pulled out a dramatic 10-8 win Sunday at Pitt Field to take the crucial weekend series from Saint Louis.

Phil Ruzbarsky, Chris Cowell and Bryan Conway also homered for Richmond, which answered with a four-run eighth inning after the Billikens pushed four across in the top half to take a brief 8-6 advantage.

Conway, whose solo homer in the fourth inning drew the Spiders within 3-2, came through again in the seventh inning with a bases-clearing three-run double to the left-field gap that put Richmond up 6-4.

The Billikens regained an 8-6 lead in the eighth thanks to a three-run bomb from C.J. Rose, but the Spiders put together yet another late-game rally and pulled off their 18th comeback win of the season – their ninth when trailing in the fifth inning or later.

Freshman Adam Forrer got the rally started with a lead-off walk and scored on back-to-back singles from Ruzbarsky and Matt Zink. With two aboard, Mergenthaler laid into an 0-1 offering from reliever Steven Levin that landed in the parking lot in right-center field to put the Spiders up for good.

Senior reliever Billy Barber made quick work of the Billikens in the ninth to nail down his third save of the season, and cap a wild game that featured five ties and four lead changes.

The Spiders improved to 25-23-2 overall, and moved into a fourth-place with La Salle and Xavier at 12-9 in the Atlantic 10 standings, while the Billikens slipped to 27-24, 8-13.

Richmond has one regular-season conference series remaining (at Saint Joseph’s) and the Spiders can clinch a berth in the six-team Atlantic 10 Tournament with two wins against the Hawks plus one loss by St. Bonaventure in its series versus Massachusetts. But the A-10 race is muddled as nine teams enter the final weekend in striking distance of a spot.

The Billikens jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead on the Spiders in the first inning and Ruzbarsky’s second home run in as many games – a laser to right field – tied it in the third.

Senior Matt Trent gave the Spiders a solid start by working five innings, scattering six hits and three runs with five strikeouts. Overshadowed by the late-game fireworks was Trent’s clutch fifth-inning escape to keep the deficit at 3-2 as he got DiRoma swinging on a 3-2 fastball after SLU loaded the bases with two outs.

SLU starter Damian Rivera, coming off a two-hit shutout last weekend, had his day ended with two outs in the fifth after Cowell’s fourth homer in the last 11 games tied the score ay 3-3.

Neither starter factored in the decision.

Freshman righty Andrew Brocket, who pitched effectively in all three games of the series, was in line for the win and improved to 2-4. Billiken closer Travis Parker was touched up for six hits and six runs in 2.2 innings of relief and was tagged the loss (2-2).


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