After VCU’s 15-2 annihilation at the hands of William & Mary in the first game of a three-game set Friday night, head coach Paul Keyes told his players to worry about the future rather than dwindle on the past.
The Rams responded to the coach’s rallying, and grinded out two valuable conference wins in the process while picking up their second conference series sweep in a row this weekend at the Diamond after defeating the Tribe 6-5 Saturday and 1-0 Sunday.
“That’s one of the things we talked (about): Stop worrying about stuff in the past and if bad things happen, you move ahead and I think we did a pretty good job of that,” Keyes said.
The match up, which pitted two teams who won their first conference series of the season last week and who also both had either one of the two co-CAA players of the week this past week, was expected to be a tighter affair than what unfolded in the first game of the series.
Freshman pitcher Blake Hauser (Chesterfield/Manchester), who was 2-1 coming into the game but has given up 37 runs in 37 innings pitched thus far this season, got rocked from the beginning and suffered what ended up being by far the worst loss of his young career.
In just under four innings of work, the Cleveland Indian draftee walked eight and hit three batters while giving up 10 runs, four of which were earned, leaving the Tribe up a near unsurpassable 10-0 after scoring a massive six runs in the fourth.
William & Mary Pitcher Logan Billbrough brought a no-hitter along with him into the sixth inning before Richard Gonzalez (Caguas, Puerto Rico/PRBA) snapped the streak with a double.
VCU finally got on the board when redshirt junior Joe Van Meter (Oyster Bay N.Y./Arizona State) drove in two runs to put his hitting streak up to 10 games, but that would be all the Rams could muster in a forgettable evening.
In the second game, VCU came out more, finally ready to play and went up 1-0 in the first inning before starting pitcher Seth Cutler-Voltz (Richmond/Henrico) gave up four straight hits, allowing the Tribe to take a 3-1 lead.
Unlike Friday’s result however, VCU warred rather than withered and responded through Van Meter’s run and in the process, the Arizona State transfer took his hitting streak tally up to twelve.
VCU then took the lead 4-3 before William & Mary tied and then took the lead themselves 5-3 in the eight.
However, the Rams were not to be denied, and first clawed their way back into the game, winning it in extra innings through clutch hitting.
Senior M.L. Morgan (Petersburg/Dinwiddie) plated a runner to tie it up in the ninth before Matt Leskiw (Plains, Pa./James) drove in pinch runner Ryan Caldwell (Charlottesville/St-Anne’s Belfield) to give the Rams what turned out to be their third walk-off win in their first five conference games.
In the series’ rubber match on Sunday, freshman pitcher Kyle Haynes (Stafford/Mountain View) delivered the best performance of his young career after giving up just two hits in what was a stingy day defensively for both sides. The right-hander struck out three in just over five innings of work in what turned out to be the Rams’ second shutout of the season.
“We pitched. If we don’t pitch, we’re not going to win,” Keyes said. “I thought Kyle was outstanding, he pitched like we thought he could and it was good to see.” VCU scored the only run of the game in the third inning when sophomore Brett Mikionis (Powhatan/Powhatan) delivered an RBI single with the bases loaded after the Tribe’s pitcher had given up a hit to Gonzalez and hit two other batters.
The Rams improve to 15-13 overall and 5-1 in CAA play after the series. VCU will return The Diamond Tuesday when they take on rivals University of Richmond.
“We’ve won 10 in a row (versus Richmond) and 17 of 18 and we want to keep that going and keep the media putting that in the paper,” Keyes said.