FAIRFAX, Va. - Senior designated hitter Zack Helgeson
blasted his 11th home run of the season in the fifth inning and the
Patriots held off a late Richmond rally as they went on to defeat the Spiders,
7-4, on Tuesday afternoon at Spuhler Field.
With the win Mason swept the season series over Richmond
while improving to 31-17 overall. The Spiders fell to 21-20.
Loading the bases with no outs in the home half of the first
inning, Mason registered the first run of the game on an RBI groundout by
sophomore third baseman Blaise Fernandez to take an early 1-0 lead.
However, the Spiders responded by loading the bases with two
outs in the fourth for junior first
baseman Bret Williams, who lined a two-RBI single up the middle to give
Richmond its only lead of the contest, 2-1.
Helgeson's three run blast in the home half of the fifth inning
put Mason up for good, as he lined a shot deep to left center to give the
Patriots a 4-2 advantage. Mason went on to add three runs in the seventh, as
junior outfielder Nick Allen hit a one out triple deep to center field before
coming home an an RBI single to left by senior second baseman Brig Tison for a
5-2 advantage. Helgeson was then intentionally walked to leave runners on first
and second and after a double steal both runs crossed home plate on a triple by
Fernandez to extend the lead, 7-2.
Richmond mounted a rally in the ninth inning, as Williams
led off with a home run to right field to pull the Spiders closer, 7-3. The
next two Spiders reached on a walk and hit by pitch before Mason closer Chris O'Grady
entered the game. O'Grady hit his first batter to load the bases then walked UR
outfielder Phil Ruzbarsky, allowing a run to score, but he then settled down as
he got his next batter to strike out and his final batter to ground out to
secure the final 7-4 margin.
Fernandez finished the day 1-for-4 at the plate with three
RBI's, while Helgeson was 1-for-3 with three RBI's two runs scored and also
recorded his first career stolen base.
Sophomore Neight Hoffa (1-2) earned his first win of the
season in relief, working two innings and giving up just one hit with three
strikeouts. Freshman starter John Williams threw four innings, surrendering two
earned runs on three hits with a strikeout, while senior Branden Bartlett threw
the seventh and eighth innings and faced four batters in the ninth before
succumbing to O'Grady. Bartlett finished the day giving up three hits, two
earned runs and struck out three. O'Grady struck out one for his 14th
save of the season, tying the Mason single-season record for saves.
Williams led the Spiders with a 2-for-4, three RBI showing
at the plate. Starter Ryan Cook (3-2) took the loss, throwing 4.2 innings and
giving up four runs (three earned) on four hits with six strikeouts.
The Patriots return to action tomorrow, hosting Maryland at
3:00 pm. It's the Game of the Week, and all Mason students in attendance will
receive free Washington Nationals tickets with a valid Mason student ID.