VCU baseball won each of its four games last week — one against Longwood University and a three-game series against conference-foe La Salle University. The Rams squeaked by Longwood in extra-innings, but thoroughly dominated the Explorers of La Salle by a combined score of 18-1.
The weekend series featured a 13-K complete game by junior starting pitcher Sean Thompson, a walk-off hit by freshman infielder Steven Carpenter, and a total of 43 hits by the Rams, who reached double-digit base-knocks in each game.
The Rams’ series sweep of the Explorers was capped off by a 3-0 shutout at the Diamond.
Sophomore and freshmen infielders Zac Ching and Brett Willett notched RBIs in the win, while sophomore pitcher Benjamin Dum tallied his first win of the year.
After sophomore starting pitcher Michael Dailey stood on the mound for four and two-thirds innings, Dum came in to throw an inning-plus. After two-thirds of an inning by freshman reliever Hayden Moore, senior star closer Sam Donko undertook two and a third innings of work to earn his sixth save, shutting down the Explorers while striking out five and only allowing three hits.
Junior infielder Mitchel Lacey crossed the plate twice for the Black and Gold, while also tallying a hit and a walk. La Salle reliever C.J. Pruitt was left to take the loss for the Explorers, pitching four innings while allowing three hits, all three runs, and walking six Rams.
The first run for VCU came in the second inning, where three consecutive walks by Pruitt forced in Lacey. VCU put up two more in the fourth frame, as Willett drove a double down the right field line, plating Lacey once again. Zac Ching hit into a double play, which put two outs on the board but also scored Willett to take a 3-0 lead. The Explorers went quietly in each of the following innings, and VCU cruised to the win.
La Salle looked to knot up the series at one game apiece on Saturday, but the Rams shut them down by a score of 7-0.
The Black and Gold scattered 15 hits to put up seven runs over the course of the first seven innings. Senior starting pitcher Brooks Vial struck out 11 and allowed just five hits over seven innings pitched before handing the ball over to freshman Ryan Fox and redshirt-sophomore Tanner Winters, who each pitched one scoreless inning.
La Salle starter Mike Anthony was the primary victim of VCU’s scoring, as the Rams racked up six runs on nine hits off of Anthony. The Rams added another six hits and one run off of Explorers closer Jared Mattera.
An early run in the first courtesy of a hit by freshman short-stop Paul Witt, and another in the third by way of a groundout from senior first-baseman/designated hitter Darian Carpenter gave VCU a quick 2-0 lead.
The Rams pushed across another pair of runs in the fourth. VCU then plated two more in the sixth and one in the seventh, ending with a Steven Carpenter RBI single. Witt’s three hits and two RBI led the Rams, and Vial escaped a seventh-inning jam with a clutch strikeout to keep the shutout intact.
VCU opened the series against La Salle with a resounding 8-1 victory highlighted by a dominant complete game performance from Thompson. Thompson allowed just seven hits through his nine innings, and surrendered just one run while striking out thirteen.
Senior outfielder Alex Gransback’s three hits led the Rams, while Ching, senior catcher Dylan Isquirdo, Witt, and S. Carpenter all tallied two hits.
The lineup kept rolling throughout the night, as every player recorded at least one hit. The Black and Gold struck in the bottom of the first on an RBI double from Witt, and added two more in the bottom of the fourth and fifth innings.
The fourth-inning run came off of an RBI single by junior utility-man J.P. Vail, which scored Isquirdo. S. Carpenter lit up the basepaths and scoreboard in the fifth frame. Carpenter doubled and eventually attempted a steal of third. La Salle’s throw sailed wide of the third baseman’s glove, allowing Carpenter to stroll home and add another run to the lead.
La Salle attempted to rally in the sixth, but only put one run on the scoreboard. VCU retained the lead and later added to it, scoring five runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Thompson shut the door down the stretch.
Longwood put up quite a fight against the Rams on Tuesday evening, but VCU edged past the Lancers in a thrilling 5-4, thirteen-inning victory.
VCU got on the board first with an early run, but the Lancers answered with three of their own to put themselves up by two.
A wild pitch scored Gransback in the top of the fourth to halve the deficit, and a fifth-inning sacrifice fly by Witt tied the game up at 3 apiece.
The stalemate continued to the ninth, and sent the game into extras. A Longwood RBI-knock gave them the lead in the eleventh, but Witt answered for VCU with a game-tying sacrifice fly to continue the roller coaster ride affair.
The 4-4 tie lasted until the thirteenth, when Carpenter laced a hit into right field to walk it off for the Rams.
Baseball’s undefeated week improves their record to 14-10 on the season. Next up, the Rams continue their nine-game homestand when the Cavaliers of the University of Virginia make their way down I-64 to take on the Black and Gold at The Diamond — first pitch is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday evening.
Adam Cheek, Contributing Writer
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