CHARLESTON, S.C. – Senior shortstop Doug Otto went 2-for-5 at the plate and hit a pair of key two-run homers to lead Virginia Commonwealth University to a 7-5 win Friday afternoon in game one of a three-game set against Charleston Southern at CSU Ballpark.
VCU (1-0) wasted little time getting on the board to start the 2010 season, plating a pair of runs in the top of the first inning. Senior centerfielder Andrew Diminio drew a leadoff walk on four straight pitches before classmate Richard Gonzalez (right) laced a single up the middle to give the Rams a pair of runners in scoring position with no out.
Two batters later sophomore first baseman Brent Mikionis collected his first hit of the season with a shot down the left field line, which scored Diminio and Rodriguez and gave VCU a 2-0 lead. Mikionis, however, was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double.
Charleston Southern (0-1) threatened in the home half of the second as Cutler-Voltz gave up a single to Patrick Dolan to start the inning before Tom Burkett was hit by a pitch to place runners on first and second with nobody out. Cutler-Voltz regained his composure and retired the next three batters to keep the Bucs off the board.
VCU plated two more runs in the top of the third inning as Gonzalez sent a one-out double into right-center field before Otto blasted a line drive home run over the left field wall to give the Rams a 4-0 advantage.
Charleston Southern cut the Rams' lead in half in the bottom of the third inning with a pair of runs. The first three Bucs batters reached as VCU committed back-to-back errors and Tyler Thornburg came up with an infield single to load the bases. Cutler-Voltz followed with his second hit batter of the afternoon and allowed the Bucs to get on the board for the first time this season. With no outs, Dolan grounded into a double play and Matt Still scored from third to pull Charleston Southern within 4-2.
Catcher Blake Hunt got the Bucs within a run following homer to left-center field to lead off the bottom of the fourth.
VCU answered with two more runs in the fifth as Gonzalez drew a one-out walk and Otto drilled his second home run of the day to increase the Rams' lead to 6-3.
Freshman right hander Kyle Haynes, who spelled Cutler-Voltz in the bottom of the inning, saw his first action as a Ram. The first batter he faced in his collegiate debut reached on an error. The rookie then struck out Bucs' first baseman Nick Chinners before surrendering a pair of walks and a hit-by-pitch, which allowed Charleston Southern to pull within 6-4.
The Rams added a run in the top of the sixth inning when junior Michael Cheatman doubled to right-center, scoring Leskiw, who reached on a leadoff walk, from first base.
Charleston Southern scored its final run of the game in the home half of the inning as Still and Thornburg had back-to-back one-out singles to start the frame. Sophomore right hander Kyle Pelchy then relieved Haynes and surrendered a walk to Chinners. Dolan followed with a sacrifice fly to center field and the Bucs cut the Rams lead to 7-5.
The combination of Pelchy and senior closer Robbie Andrews, who struck out the side in the ninth to earn the save, held the Charleston Southern lineup scoreless the rest of the way.
Cutler-Voltz allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits in 4.0 innings of work to earn the win for VCU, while Bucs' starter Anthony Markham suffered his first loss of the season.
Offensively, Gonzalez, Mikionis and Cheatham joined Otto with two hits apiece for VCU.
VCU and Charleston Southern will be back in action Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m., before concluding the series Sunday at 1:30 p.m.