Baseball shuts No. 17 ECU out, wins ninth straight

Baseball reeled off five wins last week to improve to 13-8 on the season and push its winning streak to nine games. The Black and Gold defeated No. 17 East Carolina University and Lafayette College Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, before sweeping a three-game weekend series with Iona University.

Photo by Erin Edgerton

Iona — Sun.  

VCU squeaked by the Gaels of Iona Sunday by a 5-4 final. Sophomore right-hander Connor Gillespie got credit for the win after fanning nine Gaels in four innings of work. Gillespie, who improved to 3-1 with a stellar 1.88 earned run average on the year, scattered two hits and a walk.

Junior reliever and infielder Mac McCarty notched his ninth save of the year despite allowing Iona to pull within one run in the bottom of the ninth. VCU’s two and three hitters, senior infielder Daane Berezo and sophomore infielder Paul Witt, each collected a pair of the Rams’ seven hits Sunday afternoon.

Iona — Sat.

The Black and Gold walked off Iona Saturday to win 2-1 and push their winning streak to eight games. Junior infielder Zac Ching had both RBI for VCU, smacking a solo home run over the left-field fence in the bottom of the fifth and ending the night with a walk-off walk to score Berezo after working a full count.

Senior starting right hander Sean Thompson went seven strong, only allowing one run on four hits and striking out nine. Junior reliever Benjamin Dun earned the victory after two innings of scoreless relief.

Photo by Erin Edgerton

Iona — Fri.  

Baseball won its seventh straight game Friday with a dominant 3-0 victory to kick off the weekend series. Four VCU pitchers combined for the shutout — sophomore Sam Ryan and juniors Jack Alkire, Michael Dailey and Mac McCarty.

Ryan struck out three in four innings of work and only allowed a hit and a walk. Alkire was nearly perfect in three innings of relief, fanning four, walking one and not allowing a hit. Dailey and McCarty gave up a hit each in their single scoreless frames. Six Rams recorded hits on the day. VCU took the lead with two runs in the bottom of the second and never looked back.

Lafayette — Wed.

A three-run bottom of the sixth spurred VCU to an 8-6 victory Wednesday over the Leopards of Lafayette. VCU scored five runs in the bottom of the first inning to to kick off a back-and-forth affair. Eight Rams batted in the first frame. A Berezo RBI double and sophomore infielder Brett Willett’s bases loaded single highlighted the early onslaught by the Black and Gold. Berezo went 3-4 with two runs scored.

The Leopards climbed all the way back to take a 6-5 lead in the fifth, but back-to-back RBI doubles by Witt and senior infielder Mitchel Lacey in the bottom of the sixth regained the lead for VCU, 8-6. McCarty, sophomore reliever Hayden Moore and senior reliever Ryan Fox combined to shut out Lafayette in the final three innings.

Photo by Erin Edgerton

East Carolina — Tue.

VCU extended its win streak to five games in impressive fashion Tuesday by shutting out the No. 17 Pirates of East Carolina University in a 3-0 victory in Greenville, N.C.

Gillespie, Dailey and Dum combined to scatter three hits. Dum was credited with his second save of the season after working the final three innings. Sophomore catcher Josh Simon reached base thrice, going 1-2 with a walk, hit by pitch, RBI and run scored. Witt put VCU up 2-0 in the top of the fifth with a line drive through the left center gap.

VCU will look to ride their mid-season momentum surge into conference play next week. The white-hot Black and Gold head to Virginia Military Institute for a Wednesday night date with the cadets before welcoming Rhode Island University to town for the first three-game series of A-10 play.

Zach Joachim, Sports Editor

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