W&L Baseball closes 2019 season with pair of losses at No. 20 R-MC

Matt Whitely

ASHLAND, Va. – The Washington and Lee baseball team closed its 2019 season with 5-3 and 14-1 losses on the road at No. 20 Randolph-Macon on Saturday.

The Yellow Jackets (22-8-1, 16-5-1 ODAC) opened the scoring in game one when junior third baseman Mike Nickles hit a solo home run to right field. The Generals were held off the board over the first three innings, but tied the game, 1-1, in the fourth when junior catcher Bryce Burnette (Hurt, Va./Gretna) doubled to right field to score sophomore third baseman Jason Volpicelli (Great Falls, Va./Paul VI Catholic).

Randolph-Macon regained the lead, 3-1, in the bottom of the fifth when senior left fielder Matthew Blaise hit a two-run home run to right. W&L answered quickly, however with two runs in the next half inning on a single to center from Volpicelli and a two-out double to left from senior first baseman Zach Loewenberg (Baltimore, Md./Friends School of Baltimore).

The final runs came across for the Yellow Jackets in the bottom of the seventh inning, when junior right fielder Shawn Nickles singled through the left side to score Mike Nickles, before a sac fly off the bat of junior first baseman Cole Grinde capped the scoring in game one.

Grinde got the Yellow Jackets on the board first in game two, with an RBI double to center field, before they broke the game open with a seven-run fourth inning, highlighted by a grand slam off the bat of Shawn Nickles.

W&L senior shortstop Chadwick Feeley (Jacksonville, Fla./Episcopal School) hit a solo home run in the top of the fifth inning, reducing the deficit to 8-1, before Shawn Nickles homered again in the bottom of the frame, a two-run shot to put Randolph-Macon up, 10-1.

The Yellow Jackets added their final four runs of the game in the eighth inning, led by a two-run single from Blaise.

Feeley, Volpicelli, Burnette, Loewenberg and senior left fielder Matthew Jones (Henrico, Va./Mills E. Godwin) all tallied three hits over both games. Volpicelli finished with two runs and an RBI in game one, while Burnette and Loewenberg each had RBI doubles in the first game. Jones tripled and scored one run in game one.

Feeley ends his career as the W&L all-time leader in games played (152), hits (207) and at-bats (626) and tied for the most career walks (70).

In game one, senior right-hander Kevin McHugh (Forest Hill, Md./McDonogh School) started and allowed just one run on two hits over the first 3.2 innings, before senior Jack Boyce (Armonk, N.Y./Iona Prep) got the final out of the fourth. Senior closer Danny Devereux (Mount Prospect, Ill./Prospect) (4-1) suffered his first loss of the season, after allowing four runs on five hits, with six walks and five strikeouts. Sophomore Nate Cohen (Atlanta, Ga./North Springs) finished out the game, going 1.1 innings and gave up just one hit and added a strikeout.

Junior righty Jackson Thigpen (Potomac, Md./Saint John's College) (1-2) allowed seven earned runs over four innings in game two, followed by two runs over two innings of work from senior reliever Andrew Earvolino (Wilmette, Ill./New Trier). Boyce made his second appearance of the day and gave up four runs in 1.2 innings, before junior Ben Greer (Richmond, Va./Collegiate School) recorded the final out of the eighth inning.

Shawn Nickles led the Yellow Jackets' offense with two hits in both games and seven RBI between the two contests, including six in game two. Mike Nickles went 2-for-2 in game one and drew four walks on the day, while Blaise drove in two runs in both games and scored three times total.

Senior right-hander Nick Roth (8-0) earned the game-one win after allowing three runs on eight hits with no walks and 11 strikeouts over seven innings of work. Senior reliever Daniel Lachance worked a scoreless eighth inning, walking one batter, and sophomore lefty Zack Radcliffe allowed one hit but struck out two in a scoreless ninth inning to earn his first save of the season.

Junior Michael Zubovich (7-0) got the game-two win after allowing just one run on six hits, with two walks and seven strikeouts, in six innings of work. Seniors Patrick Solomita and Tommy Barron pitched the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, each allowing no runs on one hit with a strikeout. Senior Jack Maccagnan pitched a scoreless ninth inning and allowed two hits and struck out one.

W&L logged 10 hits in the game for its 22nd game of the season with double-digit hits, the most since 2017 (22).

The Generals conclude their 2019 season with an overall record of 14-20, with an ODAC mark of 8-14, and finish the campaign with a team batting average of .301, the highest since the 2013 team batted .313 for the season.

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