WILMINGTON, N.C. – Sophomore righthander Seth Cutler-Voltz (right) tossed his third complete game of the season and Virginia Commonwealth University rallied for a 4-3 win against UNC Wilmington in the first game of a three-game set Friday evening at Brooks Field.
VCU escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth as Cutler-Voltz surrendered a leadoff single to Michael Bass and the Seahawks went on to load the bases with two outs. Robbie Monday, who leads the Colonial Athletic Association with 14 home runs, sent a charge into the right center gap but junior John Lenherr was able to make the catch and preserve the win.
VCU improved to 24-17-1 overall and 12-3-1 in CAA play, while UNC Wilmington lost for the seventh time in its last nine games and fell to 23-20, 8-8 in conference action.
Cutler-Voltz, who became the first VCU pitcher since Harold Mozingo in 2006 to throw three complete games, allowed three runs on nine hits and moved to 6-3 on the season. The Richmond, Va., native has thrown at least seven innings in his last nine outings and posted a win in four of his six CAA starts.
Junior Greg Fujii, who made his second straight start at shortstop for the Rams, finished 2-for-4 and drove in a pair of runs to put the VCU on top in the sixth inning. Seniors Richard Gonzalez and Matt Leskiw each went 2-for-5 with an RBI. Junior Joe Van Meter went 1-for-3 with a pair of walks and extended his season-long hitting streak to 13 games.
Ben Thielsen led off the UNC Wilmington third inning with a single down the right field line and advanced to second after Lenherr had trouble corralling the ball near foul territory. Alex Hill blooped a one-out single into center and Thielsen scored from third to put the Seahawks on top 1-0.
UNC Wilmington added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth. Grayson Evans lined a leadoff single into left and Rhett Miller and Bass each reached on back-to-back infield singles to load the bases with one out. Thielsen then lifted a sacrifice fly into center and Miller scored on a wild pitch to extend the UNC Wilmington lead to 3-0.
But it didn't take long for VCU to answer as the Rams got on the board with a pair of runs in the fifth. UNC Wilmington starter Tyler McSwain issued a leadoff walk to sophomore Paul Nice and Fujii sent a single into left to place runners on first and second with one out. Leskiw then doubled into the left center gap and Gonzalez followed with an infield single and VCU pulled within 3-2.
The Rams continued to rally and took the lead in the top of the sixth. For the second straight inning VCU drew a leadoff walk as Van Meter reached safely for the third time. Lenherr laid down a sacrifice bunt and Mikionis followed with a single into left and the Black & Gold had runners on the corners with one out. Nice reached on an infield single to load the bases and Fujii came through with a two-RBI single into left and VCU went ahead 4-3.
VCU and UNC Wilmington continue with game two of the series Saturday at 4 p.m. before concluding the three-game set on Sunday at 2 p.m.