FAIRFAX, Va. – Junior right hander John Williams pitched eight scoreless innings and the Patriots (24-16, 11-5) scored six runs in the first three innings on their way to a 9-2 series-clinching victory over Saint Louis on Sunday morning.
Mason earns its 11th conference win of the season, a half-game behind Saint Louis who is now 12-5 in the Atlantic 10 after the loss, 24-17 overall.
Luke Willis, Brandon Gum and the rest of the offense scored six runs on seven hits in the first three innings for early control of the game. Willis and Gum each singled in their first three at bats, one in each of the first three innings. Willis was 4-6 on the afternoon with two runs scored while Gum went 3-5, scoring two runs with one RBI.
Blaise Fernandez walked to load the bases in the bottom of the first, followed by a Ray Toto grounder to short that was thrown home and off target to allow the first run of the ballgame. Tucker Tobin walked in the next at bat to bring home Gum and Anthony Montefusco hit a sacrifice fly to left field to make it 3-0 after one inning.
With the bases again loaded in the bottom of the second, Josh Leemhuis issued a walked for his one RBI of the afternoon to move the lead to 4-0. Montefusco led off the third with a double and came home to score on a throwing error on Willis’ fourth hit of the day. Willis moved to second on the error and came home in the next at bat when Gum singled into left for a 6-0 lead.
Williams worked a strong eight innings on the mound for his third victory of the season, tossing a season-high eight shutout innings as he allowed only five hits and struck out three batters. He was relieved by Mark Maksimow at the start of the ninth, who allowed two Saint Louis runs to score before Evan Porcella induced the game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Mason scored its seventh run in the bottom of the sixth inning when Chris Cook hit a deep fly ball of the right field wall, singling home Leemhuis with the bases loaded for the third time in the game. Two more insurance runs were added on the the eighth after Leemhuis scored on a wild pitch and Cook brought in Tobin on a sacrifice fly to right field, the fifth sacrifice fly in the past two games.
The Patriots travel to Annapolis, Md. for a Wednesday matchup with Navy at 3:00 p.m. before making the trip to Amherst, Mass. for a weekend conference series with UMass beginning on Friday, May 2 at 3:00 p.m.