First-place Rams sweep Hofstra behind Van Meter, Gonzalez

First-place Rams sweep Hofstra behind Van Meter, Gonzalez

By CAA Sports-wire

N.Y. native Joe Van Meter had seven RBI’s for CAA-leading VCU over the weekend and senior Richie Gonzalez had 10 hits in the series as the Rams swept the Hofstra Pride baseball team in a three game series at University Field at Hofstra University.

Friday afternoon junior Sean Monaghan started for the Pride on the hill and was opposed by sophomore Seth Cutler-Voltz of the Rams. Monaghan surrendered six runs on 10 hits in 3.2 innings and was credited with the loss to fall to 1-3 on the season.

Cutlet-Voltz spread four Hofstra runs over eight innings of work to earn his fifth win of the year.

“We were a few feet either way of really knocking him around the game,” said Hofstra assistant coach John Russo, “but then you turn it around and he goes eight complete and you’ve got to tip your cap. Great performance by him.”

The Pride trailed 6-2 heading into its turn to bat in the seventh inning. Freshman first baseman Jared Hammer singled to lead off the inning before advancing to second base on senior second baseman Matt Prokopowicz’ single. Senior utility player Ethan Paquette reached on a fielder’s choice and senior centerfielder John Kenny scored Hammer and Prokopowicz on a double to right center. Kenny was 4-5 with two RBI’s and two runs scored on the afternoon.

Junior catcher Kevin Flynn came to bat representing the tying run with the Pride trailing 6-4 and Paquette on third but weakly flied out to right field.

“I thought we were starting to chip away the whole seventh inning on,” Russo said.

Any hopes of catching up the Pride might have had vanished in the top of the ninth inning. VCU junior outfielder John Lenherr singled and then scored on a two-run homerun by sophomore first baseman Brent Mikionis off Hofstra freshman pitcher Andrew Barbarino. Mikionis’ homerun essentially eliminated any hope of a Hofstra comeback.

“I thought the two run homerun was a big knock right there, took a bit out of us,” Russo said.

VCU would end up scoring seven runs in the ninth inning off Barbarino and Pride junior Jeff Guthridge.

Hofstra looked to even up the series Saturday when freshman David D’Errico took the mound for the Pride against 6-foot-7-inch tall lefthander Michael Graham of the Rams.

The Rams struck first, scoring two runs in the second and third innings each and three more in the fourth inning. D’Errico would be knocked from the game after just 3.1 innings and seven runs (six earned) allowed. Freshman Drew Liebert kept the Pride in the game, scattering two hits over 2.2 innings while allowing no runs to keep the Pride within reach.

Hofstra senior right-hander Ryan Radke would allow one run in the seventh inning before the Pride came to bat. Senior third baseman Mike Walraven and freshman shortstop Matt Ford made two quicks outs before the Pride rallied. A single by Hammer followed by a double by freshman catcher Mike Beers scored a run.

Freshman outfielder Peter Magistrale singled and junior outfielder Scott A’Hara was hit by a pitch, which loaded the bases for sophomore catcher Matt Hancock.

Hancock would single in a run to cut the lead to 8-2. Prokopowicz followed with a two-RBI single up the middle to cut the Rams’ lead to 8-4 and knocking Graham out of the game. The Pride could not capitalize on the pitching change as Rams sophomore Kyle Pelchy promptly got Paquette to fly out to centerfield.

The Rams would tack on two more runs in the ninth inning off Pride freshman Cody Normand. Seven VCU hitters had an RBI in the game, including Mikionis, who hit a two-run homerun for the second straight day in the ninth inning.

The Pride had its last chance to take a game from first-place VCU on Sunday following pregame ceremonies celebrating the opening of the Quinn Family Grandstand. More than 300 fans showed up to watch freshman right-hander Jared Rogers toe the rubber for the Pride against freshman Kyle Haynes of the Rams.

VCU jumped on Rogers in the first inning, scoring two runs. The Pride promptly cut that in half by scoring one run of its own, as Prokopowicz crossed the plate on a Walraven RBI groundout.

The Rams scored three runs in the third inning to extend their lead to 5-1. The inning was highlighted by a Van Meter two-run home run. Post game Hofstra head coach

Patrick Anderson gushed over Van Meter.

“Shucks!” Anderson said, “I wish I would have gotten the (Hofstra) job earlier. Van Meter wouldn’t have been down there (at VCU).”

Gonzalez, VCU’s second baseman, went 3-5 in the game with three doubles. Gonzalez improved his season average to .379 after his impressive series, which also drew praise from Anderson.

“I am definitely going to call the Royals and tell them that this kid (Gonzalez) is an outstanding player,” Anderson said.

The Pride would battle back in the bottom of the third inning to score three runs of its own. Hammer and Prokopowicz had back-to-back doubles, followed by Walraven and Paquette RBI singles. The Pride ended the third trailing the Rams just 5-4.

Rogers and Haynes traded zeroes in the fourth inning but Rogers was not able to escape the fifth. A Gonzalez double, followed by a double by senior shortstop Doug Otto as well as a walk to Van Meter forced Anderson to take Rogers out of the game. Rogers finished the day with four innings pitched and seven earned runs on 10 hits.

Hofstra rallied back with runs in the sixth and seventh innings to cut the Rams lead to 7-6. Freshman left-hander Joe Burg held the Rams scoreless for 1.1 innings after replacing Rogers before giving way to fellow freshman Matt Watkins. Watkins, a converted position player, easily recorded five outs to get the Pride through the seventh inning down just one.

Watkins started the eighth inning and gave up three runs and only recorded one out in the inning before Guthridge had to relieve him.

The Pride entered the ninth inning down 10-6 but Barbarino allowed five runs in the ninth inning and the Pride fell 15-6 on the day.

“A ball over our centerfielder, you know we’ve to secure that baseball, leaving a ball up to where a guy can go get second and third, those are the things that really kicked us in the tail,” Anderson said after Sunday’s game.

The Rams move to 21-15 overall after the three game sweep and 11-1 in the CAA. The Pride fall to 10-20 and 3-6 in CAA play.

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