RICHMOND, Va. – The University of Richmond scored three runs in the first and three more in the sixth en route to a 6-3 victory against Virginia Commonwealth University in a non-conference matchup Tuesday afternoon at Pitt Field.
VCU slips to 13-18 overall, while Richmond, which has won 14 of its last 17 games, improves to 18-13-2.
Freshman Bill Cullen went 3-for-5, while junior Taylor Perkins finished 2-for-4 and classmate Paul Nice went 2-for-5 with a pair of runs and a RBI for VCU. Bret Williams posted two hits while Billy Barber and Mike Small each collected a pair of RBI to pace Richmond offensively.
Sophomore Blake Hauser, who allowed five runs (two earned) in five innings of work, struck out seven but suffered his third loss of the season. Anthony Cafagna picked up the win for Richmond, surrendering just one run in five frames. Barber tossed a scoreless ninth for his first save.
For the fifth game in a row, VCU jumped out to an early lead as an infield single by freshman Joey Cujas put the Rams in front 1-0 in the top of the first. However, Richmond would answer with three unearned runs in the bottom of the frame to take the lead. Mike Mergenthaler reached on an error with two outs, Phil Ruzbarsky followed with a RBI single up the middle and a two-run blast by Barber gave the Spiders a 3-1 lead.
Richmond had a chance to add to its lead in the fourth after J.B. Gadd moved a pair of runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt but Hauser posted back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.
VCU nearly pulled within a run in the top of the sixth when Perkins roped a two-out single into right but a good relay by Mergenthaler cut down senior Michael Cheatham at the plate.
The Spiders eventually pushed their lead to 4-1 on a single by Gadd in the bottom of the sixth. Barber drew a leadoff walk and Williams followed with a single through the left side to setup Bryan Conway's sacrifice bunt. Small later blooped a single into shallow right to give Richmond a five-run advantage.
VCU would add a pair of runs in the eighth to pull within 6-3. Cullen led off the frame with a double into right center and a RBI single by Nice cut the deficit to four. Cheatham then reached on an error by shortstop Small but a throw from center field got past Spiders third baseman Nick Poulos and Nice scored from third to pull the Rams within three.
Junior Kyle Sutherland placed a double down the left field line and senior Michael Caddell drew a walk to start the ninth for VCU but Barber came out of the bullpen and retired three straight to halt the chance for a Rams rally.
VCU returns to The Diamond this weekend for a three-game series against Northeastern beginning Friday at 6 p.m. Game two is set for Saturday at 4 p.m. with the series concluding Sunday at 2 p.m.