Baseball opens season with two victories

Alex Greer
Contributing Writer

VCU Baseball opened its season with a pair of victories in tournament play against Radford University and Old Dominion University at Georgia Tech this past Friday and Saturday afternoon, respectively.

On Saturday, the Rams neeeded a late-inning comeback to top the Monarchs 6-3. Senior relief pitcher Logan Kanuik picked up the win and junior Matt Lees earned his first save.

VCU found itself in trouble early as redshirt senior starting pitcher Seth Greene surrendered two first-inning runs to the Monarchs and the Rams trailed by one run entering the bottom of  the seventh inning.

Taking advantage of two ODU errors in that frame, VCU scored three runs to take the lead before plating two more insurance runs in the eighth. From there, Matt Lees finished his two-inning save opportunity and VCU improved to 2-0 on the young season.

Head coach Shawn Stiffler’s team recorded 10 hits over eight innings in the victory and freshman Matt Davis went 4-4 with two doubles in his second collegiate game.

After the game, Stiffler said he was impressed with his team’s resiliency.

“It’s great win especially in that fashion to come back from behind,” Stiffler told VCU Athletics. “To get down like that and continue to fight and string at bats together and really get some key hits in the middle part of the game.”

Stiffler also praised his first-year infielder, Davis.

“It was really nice to get contributions from a young guy like that,” Stiffler said. “Every win is good. (But) when you get down early and come from behind (it) shows a lot about your club.”

On Friday, Feb. 14, the Rams topped Radford 9-4 behind a strong offensive performance and solid pitching from freshman reliever Daniel Concepcion, who picked up the win in his collegiate debut.

The Rams recorded 13 hits total including four doubles while holding the Highlanders to just seven hits and four unearned runs.

Last year’s ace Heath Dwyer started the game but pitched only four innings after surrendering four unearned runs caused by three errors in a rare showing of defensive miscues after finishing last season with the seventh least errors in the nation.

Down by one run, VCU exploded in the top of the fourth inning, plating five runs to help seal the victory against Radford.

Junior Vimael Machin picked up three RBIs in the contest while junior Joey Cujas scored three runs and stole two bases. Senior Chris Ayers and freshman Logan Farrar each recorded three hits. Farrar and Davis both recorded their first collegiate hits in their debuts.

“It’s great to get the first one of the year and start off the year 1-0,” Stiffler said after Friday’s contest. “First off we had a great pitching performance … guys came in and threw a ton of strikes.”

Stiffler says he was also pleased with his team’s offensive showing.

“Up and down the line up we were really competitive in our at bats (we really) made their starter have to throw a lot of pitches early on.”

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