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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)
After Norfolk State scored twice in the 10th inning to beat Richmond 10-8 on Wednesday, Spiders coach Tracy Woodson held his customary meeting with his players down Pitt Field's left-field line to discuss what's coming up, which was a more exciting topic than what has happened.
Richmond is 7-13 heading into a three-game series that starts today at Dayton. That's the opening of A-10 competition for UR.
"A new season starts Friday, and those are the first words I told them just now," said Woodson.
The Spiders have allowed eight or more runs nine times. UR pitchers have walked 111 batters in 178 innings and have hit 20 batters. Even when Richmond's pitchers have worked ahead in the count, they've often failed to finish the job with quality offerings, Woodson said.
"We've got to clean that up," he said of the pitching.
There is another issue, one that's limited UR since mid-February's opening day, that the Spiders would like to have cleaned up. Richmond announced Feb. 17 that secondary violations of NCAA rules impacted the eligibility of five players without identifying the players, who were suspended, or the infractions.
Several sources told The Times-Dispatch that all five players were penalized for their involvement with fantasy football. NCAA rules prohibit student-athletes from participating "in any sports wagering activity ... (including) pools or fantasy leagues in which an entry fee is required."
The sources said the fantasy football involvement was reported to the NCAA, which contacted Richmond. The whistle-blower's identity is unknown to the sources, and UR representatives have said since the Feb. 17 school release that Richmond athletics personnel would offer no elaboration on the subject.
According to the NCAA, "Resolving a case of alleged violations includes distinct phases of fact gathering, review and appeal. ... All infractions related matters before the (Committee on Infractions) are confidential."
Among the suspended players are right-hander Keenan Bartlett, a junior whom Baseball America recognized in the preseason as the A-10's third-best professional prospect, and senior infielder/designated hitter Kurtis Brown, a first team all-A-10 choice last season.
The five players remain suspended as Richmond awaits resolution by the NCAA. After the loss to Norfolk State, Woodson was asked if he could assess how the suspensions affected the Spiders through the first five weeks of their schedule.
"I definitely could. I can't talk about it," he said. Woodson added, "With what's going on, we're playing a lot of young guys, and we're making young mistakes. In the long run, it's going to make us better. But it's just difficult when you're not winning games."
The Spiders travel to Dayton hoping to string together solid pitching performances and deliver more timely hits. That, they can control. The return date of the suspended players, they cannot.
"To us, the conference is what's really important," said junior first baseman Kyle Adams. "So whatever has gone on in terms of the nonconference schedule is over now, and it's time for us to move forward and focus on the conference."
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