BY JONATHAN WIGGINTON
The Mary Washington men’s baseball team had an early season test, as they were able to take down No. 1 ranked SUNY Cortland State, 3-1, Saturday at the Battlegrounds.
Coming into the game, the Eagles were 2-0, after decisively winning both games of their doubleheader against Messiah College, the weekend prior.
Other than keeping their record untarnished, the UMW had other motivations coming into this game, none more important than the bitter taste they had in their mouth after letting a game against Cortland last year slip away.
UMW starting pitcher Andrew Cox said of the visiting team that, “we knew they could hit the fast ball, so we wanted to start them off with off-speed stuff.”
Cox, who is a senior, started the first inning strong, but surrendered a single to the visiting catcher, who proceeded to steal second and third base. After a walk to cleanup batter, Cortland cracked the scoreboard with an RBI single by Kevin Jackson. Not fazed by the early scoring, Cox induced a fly ball that ended the inning.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, the starting pitcher for the visiting team, Nicholas Blanco, was on his game early, throwing a perfect game through the first three innings.
Cox was not to be outdone; he too settled into his groove and consistently sat down the opposing batters. The end of the top half of fourth inning ended on an emphatic called strike three, which caused Cox to run off the mound, urging his teammates to score some runs. This energy propelled the Eagles as they took the bat in the bottom half of the inning.
Freshman Shane Sixsmith started off the fourth inning with a single, and was soon pushed to second after junior Seamus Bergen drew a walk. Second basemen Eric Rehbein beat out a potential double play ball, which cut down Bergen at second, but also forced Sixsmith to third.
With one out, and runners on first and third, recent Capital Athletic Conference player of the week, junior Will Wright, continued swinging a hot bat, as he singled home Sixsmith, knotting up the score at 1-1. Wright’s single prompted a mound visit by the Cortland manager, in hopes of calming down his starting pitcher.
The meeting did not work, as freshman David Noack followed Wright with a single of his own, scoring Rehbein, and moving Wright to third. An RBI fielder’s choice off the bat of junior Alex Howell scored Wright from third, making the score at the end of the inning 3-1, in favor of the home team.
From that point on, the game was in the hands of Eagles’ starting pitcher Cox. From the fifth inning on, Cox only allowed two hits, and got important strikeouts when they were needed most.
Exiting each inning with emotions high, Cox entered the ninth inning, searching for that elusive complete game win. Before he took the mound, Coach Tom Sheridan reportedly pulled him aside and reminded him of how well he’s pitched so far, and to keep it up.
After two walks that put runners on first and second base, Cox induced a ground ball double play that ended the game, giving the Eagles a 3-1 win over the No. 1 team in Division III.
Fellow pitcher John Miscioscia said of Cox’s complete game, “Only giving up one run when you go the distance is a great pitching performance against anyone.”
Coach Sheridan echoed Miscioscia’s comments saying, “Andrew is the star of this game,” as he saw his senior starting pitcher throw a complete game, and take home a win against a formidable opponent.
“In the 28 years I’ve been a coach here, he’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen,” said Sheridan of Cox.