Baseball wins 3 in a row over Lafayette

Junior in elder Paul Witt had accumulated six hits and six RBI over the three-game series against Lafayette. Photo courtesy of VCU Athletics

Adam Cheek, Staff Writer

Baseball swept Lafayette over the weekend homestand, scoring 20 runs on the way to improving its record to 11-3. The Black and Gold had two clear-cut wins — winning by three and four runs on Friday and Sunday, respectively — but had to battle Saturday to edge out a 7-6 victory.

Sunday

The Rams’ Sunday win marked their seventh in a row and their 10th victory in the last 11 games. A 7-3 victory completed the sweep of the Leopards, as VCU lit up Lafayette’s pitching in the bottom of the first.

With the bases loaded, junior infielder Paul Witt singled, scoring senior infielder Zac Ching and sophomore utility player Hogan Brown to give VCU an early 2-0 lead. Junior infielder Steven Carpenter was hit by a pitch, loading the bases for a second time. Junior catcher Josh Simon then lined a single into left-center, scoring Carpenter and Witt, while junior infielder Brett Norwood was thrown out at third.

Lafayette recorded runs in the top halves of the second and third, cutting the deficit in half, but the Rams added two more in the bottom of the third. Witt reached base on a fielding error, while sophomore infielder Liam Hibbits singled and got to second on a wild pitch. Simon then doubled down the line in left, scoring both runners.

After a Brown double, VCU loaded the bases once again in the fourth inning. Brown stole third, Norwood walked and Witt was hit by a pitch, setting up a potential VCU breakthrough with Hibbits at the plate. Hibbits was also hit by a pitch, forcing in a run and giving VCU a 7-2 advantage.

Lafayette scored in the top of the seventh, but the Rams held the Leopards scoreless otherwise, recording a 7-3 victory.

Saturday

VCU rallied to beat Lafayette 7-6 on Saturday, with the Rams battling back against a four-run sixth inning by the Leopards.

Witt doubled to right to score Ching in the bottom of the first, allowing VCU to strike first. The Rams added to their lead the next inning, as Ching doubled down the left field line to score junior outfielder Alex Taylor and freshman outfielder Tomas Sanchez.

After a Lafayette two-run outburst in the opening half of the fourth, Witt drove home Brown to create a two-run advantage. After a scoreless fifth, the Leopard offense exploded in the top of the sixth, plating four runs and taking a 6-4 lead.

Ching then doubled home Taylor to cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the sixth, and a scoreless seventh beget a Rams rally in the very next inning. With Ching and Brown on base, Witt laced a double down the line in left, scoring both runners and giving VCU a 7-6 advantage. The Rams held on, shutting out the Leopards in the top of the ninth to secure the win.

Witt went three-for-five with four runs batted in, while Ching went three-for-four with three RBIs and two runs. Junior right-hander Sam Ryan earned his second win of the season, with the bullpen striking out 12.

Friday

The Rams held the Leopards to three runs in Friday’s matchup, scoring six of their own to win the first game of the series. Junior right-hander Connor Gillispie started for the Rams, throwing four shutout innings and only giving up two hits. Norwood scored the first run for VCU in the bottom of the fourth, but Lafayette rallied for a pair of runs in the top of the sixth.

VCU answered with two of its own in the latter half of the inning, with Carpenter getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in a run. Witt then scored to reclaim the lead. Three more Rams crossed the plate the very next inning, with Ching doubling home Brown to start a three-run frame. Hibbits sacrificed Ching home, and Carpenter then singled home Norwood to take a 6-2 lead. Lafayette only managed one other run — VCU held the Leopards to that single run and took home its first victory of the series.

Norwood crossed the plate three times. Senior right-handed pitcher Benjamin Dum picked up his second win of the season, while senior right-handed pitcher and infielder Mac McCarty recorded his fourth save.

VCU will next host Marist at the Diamond March 13 at 3 p.m. The Rams will then travel to UCF for three games March 15-17.

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