Baseball vanquishes VMI 4-2 in Hauser’s first win of season

Quinn Casteel
Staff Writer
Commonwealth Times Sports’ Twitter

Blake Hauser pitched five shutout innings to earn his first win of the 2011 season as VCU defeated VMI 4-2 at home on Tuesday night.

Hauser struck out three, walked three and gave up three hits while throwing just 80 pitches. The sophomore, whose fastball has been clocked at 95 mph, was 0-3 with an ERA above seven coming into his sixth start of the season. Following Tuesday’s performance, that ERA dropped to 5.97 which he will look to improve on when he faces number one-ranked UVA on April 26.

“[Hauser’s] still not there yet but I thought he threw the ball better,” said VCU manager Paul Keyes. “He’s getting better; we just have to keep running him out there … But it was big for him to have a good outing.”

The Rams scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the first inning, and would not relinquish that lead the rest of the game. VMI starter John Garrett allowed three hits and a walk in the first frame, but may have come out unscathed if not for a fielding error by first baseman Alex Haitsuka.

Joey Cujas cashed in on the error for VCU with an RBI groundout and then Michael Cheatham followed with a two-out RBI double. From there, Hauser and the Ram bullpen needed very little help.

Michael Graham, Kyle Pelchy, John Alford and Jonathan Watson combined to allow just one run in four innings of relief as the Rams held off several late rallies. Watson notched his fourth save of the season despite some shakiness in the ninth inning. The senior closer entered with a two run lead, and gave up three consecutive hits to load the bases before getting Berkley Hawkins to bounce into a game ending double-play.

“I think the bullpen did a great job tonight,” Hauser said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more from them.”

Designated hitter Nick Kime sparked the offense with a home run on the first pitch of the sixth inning to extend VCU’s lead back to two after the Keydets scored their first run in the top half of the frame. The Rams would add another insurance run in the seventh when John Lenherr scored on an RBI groundout by Cheatham off VMI reliever Campbell Henkel.

Henkel was one of five pitchers used by VMI head coach Marlin Ikenberry, who pulled his starter after just one inning of work. Ikenberry then went to another starter, Jason Farley, to eat up the second and third innings before turning to his usual arms in the bullpen.

“We knew going in that they were going to throw a lot of guys,” Keyes said. “You’ve just got to adjust.”
The win over VMI marks the end of a four game home stand in which the Rams went 2-2, including two losses in three games against Northeastern.

VCU begins a three game series with CAA foe William & Mary in Williamsburg on Friday night as they look to move above .500 in the conference. They enter the road trip 15-20 overall and 7-8 in conference play.

“We’re still not there yet,” Keyes said. “We’re awfully young. You can see that guys are starting to figure out what they need to do individually, but we haven’t quite molded as a team yet.”

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