UR stays alive in A-10 Tourney

Sophomore Jacob Mayers fired Richmond’s third-consecutive complete game with a career-high 11 strikeouts as No. 5 Richmond advanced to the 2011 Atlantic 10 Championship game with a 7-2 win over No. 2 Rhode Island Friday night at Campbell’s Field in Camden, N.J. The Spiders will have to beat top-seeded Charlotte twice Saturday to claim the title and an NCAA Regional automatic berth.

The Spiders will be making their third all-time title bid, but first since winning the A-10 Championship in 2003. Saturday’s first game begins at 12 p.m., with an if-necessary game to follow at 3:30 p.m.

Senior Billy Barber launched a three-run homer to give the Spiders (29-26-2) the lead for good in the fourth inning and Mayers did the rest. The righty from Hanover High allowed just six hits, two runs and fanned 11 to finish one strikeout shy of the Spiders’ A-10 Tournament record of 12 by Tim Stauffer versus George Washington in 2002.

Mayers’ compete-game came on the heels of lefty Bret Williams going the distance in Thursday’s 6-0 loss to Charlotte and Matt Trent firing nine innings in Friday afternoon’s 10-3 win over Dayton.

Matt Zink, Bryan Conway and JB Gadd each had two of Richmond’s nine hits, while Gadd and Mike Mergenthaler each had two RBI.

Mergenthaler put Richmond on the board in the first inning with a sacrifice fly after Zink singled and moved to third on a pair of wild pitches.

The Rams (31-22) would draw even in the third on Tom Columbe’s RBI single and Mayers escaped further trouble in the frame by rolling a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play. That would be the first of 11-consecutive retired by Mayers over the next four innings and his offense responded by regaining and padding the lead.

Mergenthaler singled with one out in the fourth, swiped second and Cowell walked behind him. Barber stepped in and launched a towering three-run shot off the advertizing signs in left field – the 37th home run of his college career.

Richmond made it 5-1 in the fifth thanks to another sacrifice fly from Mergenthaler and Gadd drove in the final two with an RBI double in the sixth and a run-scoring single in the eighth.

Mayers improved to 2-2 with the win, while URI starter Anthony Pisani was tagged for five runs and five hits over five innings and fell to 4-2.

In Friday’s first elimination game, Richmond jumped on Dayton for six runs in the first inning and cruised to a 10-3 win behind Matt Trent’s compete-game. Chris Cowell had was three-for-four with four RBI as Richmond pounded out 14 hits, including seven for extra bases. Cowell had a three-run triple in the first inning, Phil Ruzbarsky and Bret Williams each launched two run home runs and Matt Zink had a pair of doubles and scored twice.

Trent scattered 10 hits and three runs with six strikeouts to improve to 2-4, keeping Richmond alive in the double-elimination tournament. Dayton starter Tim Corbey was touched up for six runs in the first inning and was hung the loss.

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