HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – Hofstra University pulled within 7-6 entering the eighth inning but Virginia Commonwealth University scored eight runs in the final two frames to complete its second straight and third Colonial Athletic Association sweep of the season with a 15-6 victory against the Pride Sunday at University Field.
First place VCU improves to 21-15 overall and 11-1 in CAA play, while Hofstra slips to 10-20, 3-6 in conference action.
The Rams, who collected 49 hits in the series, pounded out 18 in Sunday's finale with senior Doug Otto going 4-for-5 with four RBI and three runs scored. Senior Richard Gonzalez went 3-for-5 with three doubles and a RBI and junior Joe Van Meter was 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBI.
Freshman Brennan Huelse picked up his first win of the season after allowing just one hit in 1.1 scoreless innings of relief. The entire VCU bullpen allowed just one earned run on four hits in 5.1 innings.
Otto broke out of his slump and sparked a two-out rally with a single to left in the top of the first. Van Meter then lined a shot up the middle but Pride centerfielder John Kenny misplayed the ball and Otto scored from first base to put the Rams on the board. Junior John Lenherr singled to right to place runners on the corners and sophomore Brent Mikionis came through with an RBI single and VCU took an early 2-0 lead.
Hofstra quickly answered in the bottom of the frame as Matt Prokopowicz ripped the first pitch he saw down the left field line. Two batters later, Mike Walraven pulled Hofstra within 2-1 on an RBI groundout.
Gonzalez doubled off the wall in left to start the VCU third and was part of three consecutive batters to reach base. Otto collected his second hit of the day with an RBI single to left and Van Meter extended the Rams lead to 5-1 with a two-run blast.
The Pride again matched the Rams offensively with a three-run third of their own. Black & Gold starter Kyle Haynes allowed four hits, including back-to-back one-out doubles and Prokopowicz, Walraven and Ethan Paquette each drove in runs to cut the VCU lead to 5-4.
VCU added a pair of runs in the top of the fifth to go ahead 7-4. Gonzalez contributed his second leadoff double of the day to start the frame and scored after Otto laced a double off the left field wall. Van Meter and Lenherr reached on back-to-back walks to load the bases and Otto came home on a fielder's choice.
Hofstra kept the score close as Hammer lifted a sacrifice fly into right and plated Kevin Flynn to pull the Pride within a pair of runs in the sixth.
Junior reliever Aaron Morgan retired the first two batters he faced in the Hofstra seventh but allowed a single and a walk to place runners on first and second with two outs. Head Coach Paul Keyes went to his bullpen for the final out of the inning but senior Robbie Andrews hit Flynn to load the bases and then issued a walk to Jordan Bredehoeft as the Pride cut the Rams' lead to 7-6.
VCU responded with a three-run eighth as sophomore Paul Nice sent a triple into the right field corner and came home a double by classmate Taylor Perkins. Gonzalez later collected his third double of the day and Otto sent a sacrifice fly into right and the Rams went on top 10-6.
The Black & Gold sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five more runs in the ninth to seal the victory.
VCU returns to action with a midweek contest at
Virginia Military Institute on Tuesday, April 20 at 6 p.m.
The Rams then welcome CAA foe Georgia State to The Diamond for a
three-game set April 23-25.