Considering redshirt junior Joe Van Meter (Oyster Bay N.Y./Arizona State) had already accomplished the near-unheard-of feat of hitting a walk-off run in both games of a double-header Saturday versus Northeastern, it’s hard to imagine Sunday’s series finale versus the Huskies could make his weekend go any better.
That, however, was before Sunday’s supposed starting pitcher, redshirt sophomore Mike Graham (Fairfax Station/South County Secondary), fell ill before the game—affording Van Meter the opportunity to start his first game of the season.
Though Van Meter’s six previous appearances on the mound this season came as a relief-pitcher, he handled the Huskies handily in a 9-4 win— giving him his first win of the season and the team its second sweep of the year.
“Earlier in the week (Van Meter) sort of struggled swinging the bat a little bit but came back and got some big-game winning hits on Saturday,” said head coach Paul Keyes. “He did a good job of, at game time, getting good swings and usually when you get good swings, good things happen.”
VCU was scheduled to kick off the series against the Huskies Friday night but the game was postponed due to inclement weather, forcing a double-header Saturday.
In the first match, starting pitcher Blake Hauser (Chesterfield/Manchester) got off to a slow start and allowed Northeastern to jump out to a 4-0 lead. The Rams didn’t respond until the fifth, when they responded with four runs of their own to tie it up – in large part thanks to Richard Gonzalez’s two-out, two-run double – to make it 4-3.
After both teams responded with a run of their own in the sixth, the score was knotted up 5-5 until the ninth when VCU finally found the winning run. After loading the bases through a single, a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk, Van Meter stepped up on a 2-2 pitch and corked a single over the head of Northeastern’s first baseman to hand the Rams a 6-5 victory—their first conference victory of the year.
In the night stand of the double header, starting pitcher Seth Cutler-Voltz (Richmond/Henrico) improved his record to 3-2 after pitching a complete game for the Rams while giving up four runs on seven hits.
Northeastern took the lead in the top of the first inning for the second time that day, going up 2-0 before VCU loaded the bases with no outs but couldn’t find a way to score a run in the bottom of the first. VCU scored a run in the fifth to make it 4-2, but the Rams were none the better off, still trailing by two heading into the ninth.
In the final period, senior M.L. Morgan (Petersburg/Dinwiddie) and sophomore Taylor Perkins (Dinwiddie/Dinwiddie) tied the game up on a bizarre play when the Huskies catcher, in his attempt to throw out Perkins at home plate, missed with his toss and sent the ball flying past Northeastern pitcher Andrew Leenhouts—allowing Morgan to score too.
Van Meter then drove in senior Richard Gonzalez (Caguas, Puerto Rico/PRBA) for the game-winning run, giving VCU its second one-run, walk-off win of the day.
The series also marked the opening of CAA play and left the Rams with a 13-10 record overall and a 3-0 mark in the conference.
With the sweep, VCU completes a much-needed 4-0 week to improve to 13-10 after being on a season-high seven-game losing streak prior to Tuesday’s 10-4 win versus Longwood. The Rams play the University of Maryland in College Park on Tuesday.
“Our guys will be excited because it’s an ACC team and we’re just going to go out there and just keep trying to get better,” Keyes said.