WILMINGTON, N.C. – Junior Joe Van Meter hit a two-run homer in the top of the 12th inning and the Rams escaped a pair of bases loaded jams late to capture the 2010 Colonial Athletic Association Baseball Championship with a 7-5 win against fourth-seeded UNC Wilmington Saturday evening at Brooks Field.
VCU, which captured its fifth tournament title in its last seven trips, overcame a 5-1 fourth inning deficit and tied the game in the eighth after CAA Defensive Player of the Year Michael Rooney committed a costly error that allowed the equalizer to score. The Seahawks loaded the bases in the ninth and tenth innings but couldn't scratch across a run and the Rams bullpen tossed eight scoreless innings to close out the game.
UNC Wilmington forced a game two in the championship series for the 10th time in tournament history after defeating VCU 10-0 in game one. The 12-inning affair in the nightcap was the second-longest game in CAA Tournament history. The Rams were involved in a 13-inning game in the 2007 title match.
Junior Jonathan Watson came in during the sixth, tossed four scoreless innings and allowed just one hit with three strikeouts. Meanwhile, freshman Brennan Huelse, sophomore Kyle Pelchy and senior Robbie Andrews combined to toss four scoreless frames, while allowed just two hits.
Junior Gregory Fujii came off the bench in the fifth inning and went 3-for-4 with two runs and a RBI for the Rams. Van Meter, who was named CAA Tournament Most Valuable Player, broke the conference's single season hits record with 103 after a 2-for-6 outing.
UNC Wilmington picked up where it left off in game one with a four-run first inning. Grayson Evans put the Seahawks on the board after he laid down a bunt but sophomore Seth Cutler-Voltz, who started the game after going the distance in Friday's win, couldn't handle it and Rooney came around to score. Hunter Ridge reached on an error, Matt Holt collected a RBI single and Ridge scored on a wild pitch to put UNC Wilmington on top 4-0.
Thomas Pope reached on an error to start the fourth inning and Ben Thielsen gave the Seahawks a 5-1 advantage with a single up the middle.
However, VCU mounted a rally in the top of the fifth as the Rams plated three runs to pull within 5-4. Senior Richard Gonzalez and Van Meter collected back-to-back singles to start the frame and junior John Lenherr, Fujii and sophomore Paul Nice each drove in runs.
Fujii led off the eighth inning with a single and came home after Rooney misplayed Otto's ground ball and VCU knotted the score at 5-5.
Along with Van Meter, Cutler-Voltz, Otto and Watson were named the CAA All-Tournament Team.
VCU will host an official watch party at Hometeam Grill in the
Fan on Monday at 12 p.m., as the Rams learn their NCAA
CAA All-Tournament Team
Daniel Cropper, UNC Wilmington... Seth Cutler-Voltz, VCU... Brett Garner, James Madison... Matt Holt, UNC Wilmington... Tyler McSwain, UNC Wilmington... Robbie Monday, UNC Wilmington... Doug Otto, VCU... Thomas Pope, UNC Wilmington... Hunter Ridge, UNC Wilmington... Joe Van Meter, VCU... Jonathan Watson, VCU... Most Outstanding Player: Joe Van Meter, VCU