PANTHERSVILLE, Ga. – Virginia Commonwealth University pounded out a season-high 23 hits, including four doubles, three triples and a home run, and defeated Georgia State University, 17-8, Sunday afternoon to pick up its first Colonial Athletic Association series win of the season.
The Rams have handed Georgia State two straight losses after the Panthers had won a school-record 11 in a row entering the second game of Friday's doubleheader.
VCU, which had 16 hits through four innings, improves to 9-13 overall and 3-3 mark in CAA play. Georgia State slips to 20-6, 4-2.
Freshman Chris Ayers went a career-best 5-for-7 with four RBI, four runs, a double and a triple, while classmate Bill Cullen and junior Kyle Sutherland each went 4-for-5. In all, eight different Rams collected a hit with six posting two or more.
Sophomore Kyle Haynes picks up his third win of the year, allowing three earned runs in five innings of work. Justin Malone suffered the loss for Georgia State after surrendering five runs on 11 hits in 2.2 innings.
In the top of the second, sophomore Nick Kime, who reached on a fielder's choice, scored from second after an infield single from freshman Landon Prentiss. Prentiss' ball was hit behind the bag at second and Georgia State second baseman Rob Lind couldn't make play as his throw was late at home and the Rams jumped on top 1-0.
The bats came alive in the third for VCU as the Rams scored four runs on six hits. Senior John Lenherr led off the inning with a triple in the right field corner and freshman Joey Cujas doubled into the left center gap to give VCU a two-run lead. Ayers later sent an RBI single up the middle, Kime lifted a sacrifice fly into center, and Ayers scored on a fielder's choice to give VCU a 5-0 advantage.
Brett Maxwell put Georgia State on the board in the bottom of the frame with a double off the center field wall but a three-run error allowed the Panthers to pull with one. Junior Paul Nice tried to turn a double play to end the inning but his throw sailed past Prentiss covering second. Ryan Fleming then singled into right to knot the score at 5-5.
The Panthers' push didn't last long as VCU regained the lead in the top of the fourth. Lenherr, who led off the inning with his third hit of the day, scored on a groundout by senior Michael Cheatham. Ayers drove in a pair with a triple down the right field line and Kime followed with his second sacrifice fly. Cullen then gave the Rams a five-run cushion with a single up the middle.
A single by Sutherland and a triple by Cullen pushed VCU's lead to 13-5 in the sixth but Georgia State got a pair back in the bottom of the seventh to cut the Rams' advantage to six.
A sacrifice fly by Prentiss plated Kime to make it 14-7 in the eighth, however, the Panthers answered with a run in the bottom.
Ayers drove in his fourth run of the game with a double into right and Kime hit a two-run homer to extend VCU's lead to 17-8 in the ninth.
VCU returns to The Diamond on Tuesday, March 29 against Longwood at 4 p.m. The Rams then host CAA rival Old Dominion for a three-game series April 1-3. Game one is set for Friday at 6 p.m.