PHILADELPHIA - La Salle broke a 2-2 tie with three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to defeat Richmond, 5-2, on Friday afternoon at Hank DeVincent Field. Senior Jeff Flax (North Potomac, MD / St. John’s College HS) had two of La Salle’s six hits, while senior Eric Van Wyk (Garnet Valley, PA / Garnet Valley) allowed just one earned run in 6.1 innings for the Explorers.
The win was the ninth in the past 11 games for La Salle.
Junior Pat Christensen (La Jolla, CA/ La Jolla), La Salle’s all-time leader in saves, pitched the ninth for his A-10 leading seventh save. Freshman Mike McLeod (Croyden, PA / Harry S Truman) struck out three in 1.2 innings of relief for his second win of the spring.
Neither team could get much offense going for most of the game, as Van Wyk was in control of the nation’s top home run hitting team. He scattered five hits, walked two and struck out three but earned the no-decision after his runner scored in the seventh after he was lifted.
McLeod got out of a first and third jam in the seventh with two outs with a flyout to center and pitched a 1-2-3 eighth before giving way to junior Ryan Donahue for a batter and Christensen.
With the contest tied at 2-2 in the eighth, Flax led off the inning with a single but was erased on senior Adam Kammler’s fielder’s choice. Kammler moved to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on senior Marc Schoch’s single.
A walk to junior Joe Bennie brought freshman Kevin Conroy to the plate and he delivered with a sacrifice fly that gave the Explorers (15-10, 3-1 A-10) the 3-2 lead. Freshman Ryan Welling, who entered the game in the seventh, blooped a single to right that plated Schoch and Bennie crossed the plate when the throw in from right sailed up the line to the Richmond dugout.
Christensen struck out the final two batters of the game to nail down the save.
Three of La Salle’s six hits came in the eighth but head coach Mike Lake’s squad used small ball to put two runs on the board.
In the third, sophomore George Smith, Jr. doubled to lead off the frame moved to third on Flax’s single and scored on a Kammler fielder’s choice to tie the score at 1-1. La Salle took a 2-1 lead when senior Brendan Norton, the nation’s leader in walks, drew a bases on balls moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Flax, third on a wild pitch and scored on Schoch’s sacrifice fly.
Jacob Mayers threw well for Richmond (13-10, 0-1), allowing two earned runs in seven innings, while striking out five. Andrew Brockett (0-4) suffered the loss after allowing three runs (two earned) in one inning.
Mayers and Mike Small each had two hits for the Spiders.
The series resumes on Saturday at 1 PM. Sunday’s game is scheduled to start at 1:30 PM due to women’s lacrosse hosting St. Bonaventure at McCarthy Stadium.
NOTES: La Salle’s Liberty Bell Classic semifinal game on Tuesday will be played at home at DeVincent Field versus Penn…This is a change from what was originally announced…Pat Christensen will be featured in Saturday’s SportsWeek, produced by the Philadelphia Daily News…The Explorers are 6-1 at home…La Salle is 14-1 when leading or tied after eight innings…The Explorers are also 12-3 when scoring at least five runs.