After winning its first three games of the season, VCU Baseball had its home opener spoiled by Old Dominion University on Feb. 19, as the Monarchs topped the Rams 6-4 at the Diamond.
The loss was VCU’s first of the season and dropped its record to 3-1 on the year.
Junior starting pitcher Daniel Concepcion, who transferred from Connors State Junior College, allowed just two runs over five innings in his first start with the Rams, but the bullpen blew a late-inning lead to hand Concepcion the no decision.
VCU plated three runs in the bottom half of the sixth inning, giving the Rams a momentary one-run advantage, but VCU relievers allowed four runs in the last three frames. Junior relief pitcher Matt Blanchard walked both batters he faced in the seventh inning, and junior Thomas Gill surrendered four hits and two earned runs before giving way to closer Matt Lees in the ninth.
The Rams recorded seven hits on the game against ODU’s 14, but failed to record a single extra-base hit. Third baseman Joey Cujas’ sixth-inning single to center was good for two RBIs and half of the Rams total offensive offering. Center fielder Bill Cullen followed with a sacrifice fly and shortstop Vimael Machin added an RBI single in the seventh inning. Left fielder James Bunn scored two runs.
The Rams were able to make contact with the ball, striking out three times over nine innings, while ODU struck out eight times. But Monarch pitching ultimately trumped VCU’s staff in the Rams’ first home game of the season.
After the game, head coach Shawn Stiffler said he was proud of his starter and has confidence in his team moving forward.
“You get beat when you do the things we did,” Stiffler said. “Daniel (Concepcion) did a good job, he gave us a chance to win today. As he adjusts to this level, we expect him to go deeper and deeper into games. We’re going to play better than we did today.”
VCU won the first leg of a three-game series at Furman University 14-9 on Friday, Feb. 21, improving to 4-1 on the season. Saturday’s and Sunday’s results were not final as of press time.
The Rams open up a five-game homestand this Wednesday, as they welcome East Carolina University into town before beginning a three-game series with Temple University on Friday, Feb. 28.