Facing the possibility of jumping into the top half of the conference standings or falling deeper into the bottom half, baseball’s three-game series against Temple would be of the utmost importance at this point in the season.
But, as VCU has done too often as of late, they lost the series and continued their tumble into the bottom depths of the conference.
“We gave a lot of runs away this weekend, be it walks or some defensive plays we didn’t make,” head coach Shawn Stiffler said. “We need to work on everything (right now).”
Starting off the season with nine straight wins and outscoring their opponents by 31 runs, VCU baseball looked to be on pace for their best season in years.
In this nine-game winning streak, the Rams swept Atlantic 10 foe St. Joseph’s, swept aside their opposition at the Charleston Crab House Shootout, and also took home the Country Inn and Suites Elon Invitational.
As all winning streaks have to come to an end, VCU’s came in a weekend series at UNC Wilmington in which the Seahawks swept the Rams, taking all three games. The demise of the win streak would subsequently lead to 7-17 record.
“It’s turned downhill, it’s very disappointing. It’s very easy to look at the way we started off and how good we jumped out and think that’s really the team we were,” Stiffler said. “We weren’t as good as a 9-0 team, but we’re not as bad as we’re playing right now.”
“The fact is, we’ve suffered through a lot of injuries. We’ve lost some key components on the pitching mound and also in the middle of our lineup,” he said. “That’s hurting us a little bit right now, but we’re still certainly good enough to make a run here at the back end [of the season].”
VCU has had some great showings against good teams, though it ended in losses.
They traveled to UNC – the top ranked team in the country – and narrowly lost 3-2 in extra innings. Also traveling to Charlotte, a team ranked in the top half of the A-10 all season long, VCU took the series after winning two games, and could’ve swept the 49ers if not for a tough 9-8 loss in the second game.
“We’re always going to play the best teams in the country and this year, just in midweek games alone, we play six ACC games,” Stiffler said.
Unfortunately for the Rams, they’re 1-3 against the ACC so far, and still have two pairs of games against Maryland and U.Va. to come.
While the games midweek have been tough on VCU and account for a number of the losses, the glaring issue with the Rams is their lack of ability to win series. The series win against Charlotte is the only one VCU has since the perfect start came to an end.
Although the Rams are struggling now, Stiffler believes that a lot of good can come from their recent form to benefit the rest of this season and seasons to come.
“We’re struggling building momentum but we believe with having a really young team, that it’s going to benefit us in the years to come,” Stiffler said.
VCU hosts Maryland and VMI midweek before spending a weekend in Dayton, Ohio for a conference series.