Andy Riddler, Contributing Writer
Baseball continued its hot start to conference play, winning two of its three-game series with Davidson March 29-31, including a 13-1 blowout in the Sunday matinee.
The Rams won on their best offensive output of the weekend, piling up 16 hits and 13 runs.
VCU scored four runs in the first two innings, three driven in by junior infielder Brett Norwood.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Connor Gillispie won his second game of the season — he pitched five innings and struck out 10 batters, only giving up one run. The 10 strikeouts are a season best for Gillispie.
“As a coach, you feel very, very fortunate to come into a game knowing he is sitting there able to take the ball in a weekend-deciding game,” coach Shawn Stiffler said. “He was a freaking stud today.”
Sophomore infielder Liam Hibbits helped power VCU to victory with five RBI and two home runs — his first two of the year — to bring his season RBI total to 24, tied for second on the team.
VCU struggled to solve Davidson’s starting pitcher for five innings but took advantage of the Wildcats’ first relief pitcher to score six unanswered runs and earn the 7-3 series-tying victory.
The Rams scored first in the opening frame — sophomore utility player Hogan Brown reaching home on a Davidson error — but gave up three unanswered runs as they trailed into the latter third of the game.
VCU’s offense finally opened up in the sixth inning after a bases-clearing double by Hibbits, which helped the team settle in against Davidson, Stiffler said.
“Sometimes you score that one run or get that one big hit,” Stiffler said. “And everybody just catches fire from there.”
VCU’s bullpen played a role in the comeback — the duo of junior right-handed pitcher Sam Ryan and senior right-handed pitcher Jack Alkire combined for six innings pitched and only one run given up. Ryan earned his third save of the year, and Alkire improved to 4-1 on the season.
The Rams struggled to figure out Davidson’s pitching, falling 2-3 in the first game of the weekend series.
VCU gave up the first two runs before tying the game on a home run by junior infielder Paul Witt — his second of the season — but gave up the winning run in the following inning.
Witt finished with two hits, which were hard to come by for VCU. But stellar pitching kept the game close as redshirt-sophomore right-hander Justin Sorokowski and senior right-handed pitcher Benjamin Dum combined to allow two earned runs and 11 strikeouts.
VCU will be back in action on the road in a three-game series against La Salle starting April 5 at 3 p.m. in Philadelphia.