With severe weather conditions continuously keeping VCU baseball from playing at home, the team traveled back to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to play a three-game series against the University of Pittsburgh Feb. 27-March 1.
The baseball team looked to end its Myrtle Beach woes after going 0-3 in their last trip, just a few days ago. Entering the series, the Rams had compiled a 1-4 record without hosting a n official home game at the Diamond to begin the season. As winter weather has kept the team from playing in Richmond, VCU took part in a three-game series with Bucknell University, inevitably giving up the series sweep to the Bisons. The Feb. 17 matchup versus No. 1 ranked University of Virginia was postponed to a later date.
Giving up early inning runs has plagued the Rams, as Bucknell capitalized on key opportunities early in the first two games where VCU was unable to counteract.
The first two games were part of a double-header played on Feb 21. In the first game, Bucknell opened up with a 4-0 lead, as a fielder’s choice gave up one run in the first inning and passed balls and walks led to three runs being scored in the third. Bucknell’s Joe Ogren added a solo homerun in the fifth making the score 5-0. VCU would tack on one run late in the eighth inning on a fielder’s choice from sophomore infielder Darian Carpenter in his first plate appearance of the season. The rams would go on to lose 5-1.
In the second game of the day, senior pitcher Matt Blanchard delivered his first appearance of the season, striking out 10 batters in six innings. Blanchard had four consecutive strikeouts in between the third and fourth innings.
The Rams’ bats were not able to take advantage of Blanchard’s hot hand, as the first base hit did not come until the fourth inning with a single from junior James Bunn. The Bisons then opened the scoring up, as they scored three runs in the top of the sixth inning. VCU would respond, scoring its only run on the bottom half of the frame. The Rams’ bats came to life in the ninth as senior Viamel Machin singled to start the inning and was driven home on a two-run shot driven by junior Jimmy Kerrigan. Sophomore Matt Davis, who reached base on an error, would also cross the plate, after Ryan Coale’s single. The Rams rally would end; as they would go on to lose 6-4.
In the last game of the series, the Rams got off to a better start than their previous games, as base runners advanced with walks and a sacrifice fly by Davis led to a scored run by Kerrigan. VCU’s hot start would not be enough, as a Joe Ogren single in the sixth inning would eventually decide the game 3-2.
The Rams’ bullpen despite the loss, has pitched well, not allowing an earned run with eight strikeouts. Head coach Shawn Stiffler said he understands weather had an impact on the recent losses on the road, but did not want his team to fall to the adversity that was given.
“The weather has been as challenging this year as I’ve ever seen it,” Stiffler said. “Baseball is a game of adjustments. We need to stay focused on the things that we can control. Obviously the weather is not one of those things.”