WILMINGTON, N.C. – Junior Joe Van Meter hit a bases-clearing triple with two outs in the top of the eighth and sophomore Seth Cutler-Voltz tossed his fifth complete game as third-seeded Virginia Commonwealth University defeated No. 2 Georgia State University, 7-4, Thursday afternoon in the opening round of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament at Brooks Field.
With the victory, VCU advances to play the winner of top-seeded James Madison University and No. 4 UNC Wilmington on Friday at 3:30 p.m.
Van Meter, who went 4-for-5 with four RBI, was a home run shy of the cycle and tied the VCU single-season hits record with 100. Junior John Lenherr finished 3-for-3 with two RBI, a walk and hit-by-pitch, while senior Doug Otto went 3-for-5 with a RBI. Cutler-Voltz allowed four runs on just six hits and fanned two. The sophomore has thrown at least seven innings in 11 of his last 13 outings.
VCU's leadoff batter reached in seven of the nine innings, while Georgia State had a leadoff hitter reach just once. The Rams pounded out 16 hits and limited Georgia State's potent offense to just six. The Panthers entered the game leading the nation with 11.1 runs per game and owned the third-best average in the NCAA hitting .366.
The Rams went on top 2-0 in the top of the third. Otto started the frame with a single into left before senior Richard Gonzalez drew a one-out walk and Van Meter, who was hitless in his previous six at-bats, lined a single through the right side and put the Rams on the board. Georgia State starter Aiden Francis, who surrendered four runs on 10 hits in 5.2 frames, hit consecutive batters and Gonzalez came home with the bases loaded.
Rob Lind drew a leadoff walk and the Panthers got their first base runner of the afternoon in the bottom of the third. Shane Hammond sacrificed Lind into scoring position before Brett Maxwell cut the VCU lead in half with a single through the right side. Sophomore catcher Taylor Perkins caught Maxwell in a rundown but Mark Micowski scored from third before the out was recorded and Georgia State knotted the game at 2-2.
The Panthers continued to pressure and took their first lead of the game in the fourth. Logan lined a one-out single up the middle and advanced to second on a passed ball. Brandon Williams then came through with a RBI single into center and Georgia State took a 3-2 advantage.
VCU tied the score again after Gonzalez and Van Meter reached on back-to-back singles to start the fifth. Lenherr drove in his second run of the game and tied the score at 3-3 with a two-out single through the right side. Kime then collected his first career postseason hit with a single up the middle to lead off the Rams' sixth. Sophomore Paul Nice sacrificed Kime into scoring position and Otto lined his third hit of the day into left field and gave VCU a 4-3 lead with two outs.
But Georgia State wouldn't go away as Hammond found the gap in left center for a one-out triple in the seventh. Nice couldn't make the catch after a long run and Malone laid down a bunt, which plated Hammond to tie the game again at 4-4.
Perkins drew a one-out walk for the
Rams in the eighth and Leskiw followed with a line drive past a
diving Lind at second base to begin the final VCU rally.
Gonzalez walked to load the bases before Van Meter hit a
bases-clearing triple in the left center gap and the Black &
Gold went ahead for the final time 7-4.