LEXINGTON, Va. – Sophomore reliever Nate Cohen (Atlanta, Ga./North Springs) pitched out of a bases loaded, one-out jam and kept Southern Virginia off the board over the final 3.2 innings to earn in his first career save in the Washington and Lee baseball team's 8-6 win over the Knights on Thursday evening.
Entering the game in the sixth with a 7-5 lead and the bases loaded, with one out, Cohen surrendered a single through the right side to the first batter he faced, sophomore left fielder Caleb Layden, before striking out the next two batters to keep the Generals (4-0) ahead by a run.
W&L added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning when junior right fielder Ryan Monson (Frisco, Texas/Wakeland) led off the inning with a bunt single to third, before stealing second later in the inning with two outs. Sophomore center fielder Matt Whitely (Salem, Va./Hidden Valley) then singled through the right side to bring Monson around to cap the scoring in the game.
The Generals got out to a fast start to open the contest, as sophomore shortstop Jason Volpicelli (Great Falls, Va./Paul VI Catholic) and senior left fielder Matthew Jones (Henrico, Va./Mills E. Godwin) singled, followed by a walk to senior first baseman Zach Loewenberg (Baltimore, Md./Friends School of Baltimore) to load the bases.
Junior designated hitter Bryce Burnette (Hurt, Va./Gretna) then laced a single through the left side, scoring Volpicelli and leaving the bases loaded, before Monson cleared the bases with a three-run double down the right-field line to give W&L a quick 4-0 lead.
Sophomore catcher Jack Giardino (Charlotte, N.C./Providence Day School) then singled to right, moving Monson to third and knocking out Southern Virginia (2-1) starting pitcher Jaxon Newbold, before Monson scored on a wild pitch after two outs were recorded.
The Knights began to chip away at the Generals' lead, however, starting with an RBI triple in the top of the second from senior shortstop Ryan Morin. That was followed by a run-scoring wild pitch and RBI double to center from sophomore designated hitter Mitch Tyse in the fourth to cut the W&L lead to 5-3.
In the top of the fifth, with the bases loaded and no outs, junior first baseman Cole Critchfield grounded a pitch back to sophomore reliever Peyton McCann (Midlothian, Va./James River), who took over for junior starter Jackson Thigpen (Potomac, Md./St. John's College) in the fourth. McCann threw home for a force out, but Critchfield reached first on an error. Sophomore second baseman Jordan Nase, who began the play on second, scored on the play after the ball got away from Loewenberg at first.
Sophomore third baseman Bridger Taylor then doubled to left field to score Layden from third and tie the game at 5-5.
In the bottom half of the fifth, Jones and Loewenberg drew back-to-back walks with one out. After an SVU pitching change and a fly out for the second out of the inning, both runners moved up to second and third on a wild pitch, before Monson doubled down the left-field line to give the Generals another two-run lead.
Cohen finished with seven strikeouts in his 3.2-inning save, while allowing no runs on three hits with one walk. McCann earned the win after tossing 1.2 innings, allowing one earned run (three total) on five hits with a walk and a strikeout. Thigpen's start lasted 3.2 innings, as the junior right-hander allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits with no walks and four strikeouts. The trio combined to strike out 14 Southern Virginia hitters, the most by a W&L pitching staff in a single game since March 24 of last season (15 vs. Lynchburg).
Monson finished with a career-high five RBI and went 3-for-4 at the plate, with a double, two runs scored and a stolen base. Jones concluded the game at 1-for-1 with two walks and two runs, while Loewenberg walked twice and also scored two times.
For the Knights, Nase finished 3-for-5, with a run, from the lead-off spot, while Layden and Morin went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run each.
Newbold did not record an out in his start, allowing five earned runs on five hits and a walk. Junior Riley Daniels was first out of the Southern Virginia bullpen and lasted 4.1 innings, but was tagged with the loss after he gave up two runs on no hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
Sophomore Jonathan Soto and senior Mike Stirling pitched the final 3.2 innings for the Knights, combining to allow one run on four hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
The Generals will be back on the diamond on Saturday when they travel to Pfeiffer for a doubleheader beginning at 1:00 pm.
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