It has been a rough season for the University of Rhode Island baseball team. After three straight appearances in the Atlantic 10 Championship, the Rams currently sit 11thÂ above only St. Bonaventure in the conference at 7-29Â overall after losing 24 games all of last year.
Last week they hosted conference foe George MasonÂ UniversityÂ in an attempt to improve their position in the conference and secure some much needed wins. URI entered the series with the PatriotsÂ asÂ losers of five straight gamesÂ and forÂ the Rams to turn their season around and build some momentum, theyÂ are going to have to improve on their struggling offense. URI currently sits in last place in team batting average at .218 and looked to get rolling at home against a Patriots team ranked third in the conference in batting average and first in pitching.
It did not take long for the Rams to see the stellar Patriots pitching staff as starterÂ Anthony Montefusco shut out the Rams over eight innings. HeÂ recorded seven of URI’s season-high 12 strikeouts and did not walk a batter. The Rams only managed two hits in the game in the form of Nick DeRegis and Dan Hetzel singles. Leading the way offensively for George Mason was sophomore shortstop Brandon Gum who went 3-4 with a stolen base and accountedÂ for two of George Mason’s five runs resulting in a 5-0 loss for the Rams.
URI’s struggles offensively would carry over to the second game of the series. For the second straight game URI was held scoreless and suffered a 7-0 loss. Ram batters were only able to secure five hits and one walk off of the Patriots pitching staff.Â George MasonÂ starter Jared Gaynor pitched a complete game and threw a total of 107 pitches. Lou Distasio took the ball for the Rams and was able to pitch a quality game. Over his five and two-thirds innings, he scattered seven of George Mason’s 11 team hits and two runs, both of which were earned.
URI entered the series finale on Sunday in hopesÂ of avoiding their second home sweep of the season. Taking the ball for the RamsÂ tryingÂ to stop the bleeding was sophomore Steve Moyers, who has turned it on as of late. In the past month his ERAÂ has dropped from over four runs a game to 2.57 over the last month. Moyers was the lucky recipient of some early run support afterÂ URI managed to score two runs early in the game for an early 2-0 lead.
That lead stood until the top of the fifth inning when theÂ PatriotsÂ scored five runs to take a 5-2 lead. George Mason went on to add another run in their half of the seventh inning and further extended their lead to 6-2. However, the Rams would not be denied on this day and triumphantly came back to score four runs of their own to tie the game at six. Then, Pat Quinn capped the comeback with a solo homeÂ run in the bottom of the ninth to give URI a hard-earned 7-6 win.
“I can go on and on about Steve from a leadership standpoint he’s a greatÂ leader along with Lou [Distasio],” Foster said. “They’re excellent pitchers who keep getting better andÂ better week in and week out.Â Steve has been outstandingÂ [too]Â since he stepped on this campus.”
With the Patriots series behind them, URI looked to carry their momentum over to Smithfield as the Rams took on the Bryant Bulldogs. Starting for the Rams was freshman Tyler Barss. He pitched four innings for URI but was knocked around for seven runs, five of which were earned as URI fell to the Bulldogs 11-7.
URI then hosted Hartford Wednesday afternoon at Bill Beck Field. Rhode Island was out hit 11-3 in the contest but still made a game of it. In the bottom of the fifth URI scored two runs for an early lead. Ben Wessel had a solid day for the Rams and only allowed one earned run in his six innings of work. He also did not issue a walk and struck out six. However, Hartford tied the game theÂ following inningÂ and the game went into extras. In the 10thÂ inning, Hartford scored two runs off ofÂ aÂ David MacKinnon single. Pinch runner Brian Estevez then scored on a James Alfonso single and a URI error. Ryan Lukatch later scored the second run on a wild pitch as Hartford came back to defeat URI 4-2.
Rhode Island will open up a five-game home stand this weekend against Virginia Commonwealth University with games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Rams will then host Brown University on Monday afternoon and Boston College on Tuesday.
“This is a good group and they don’t give up it’s been hard you know,” Foster said. “We just got our 16thÂ injury of the year. It’s been difficult and they’ve been learning and keep plugging away.”