WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Trailing by eight, William & Mary scored six unanswered and sent the tying run to the plate in the ninth but Virginia Commonwealth University escaped the rally and held on to defeat the Tribe, 8-6, Sunday afternoon in the series finale at Plumeri Park.
VCU avoided its first Colonial Athletic Association series sweep of the season, improving to 16-22 overall with an 8-10 mark in conference play. William & Mary slips to 21-21, 11-10.
Freshman Joey Cujas went 3-for-5 with a double and four RBI, while classmate Bill Cullen finished 3-for-5 with a RBI to pace VCU offensively. Junior Taylor Perkins and senior Michael Cheatham collected two hits apiece for the Rams.
Despite allowing five runs in 5.1 innings, senior David Benson (3-2) picked up the win for VCU, while William & Mary starter Cole Shain (1-4) suffered the loss after allowing a four-run first inning. Senior Jonathan Watson recorded his fifth save tossing the final 1.2 scoreless frames.
The bats came alive for VCU early as the Rams jumped out to an 8-0 lead, pounding nine hits through three innings. However, William & Mary battled back with six unanswered runs, including three homers, and held VCU to just three hits the rest of the way.
Perkins and Cujas collected two RBI apiece with doubles in the top of the first for a quick 4-0 VCU advantage.
Junior John Lenherr led off the third with a solo home run. Then, after back-to-back singles and a sacrifice bunt, Cujas drove in two more with a single into right to put VCU on top by seven. A base hit by Cullen would give the Rams an 8-0 lead.
Benson held the William & Mary offense at bay until the fourth when a solo shot by Jonathan Slattery and a two-run bomb from Ryan Williams, his second of the series, pulled William & Mary within 8-3.
Ryan Brown led off the fifth with an infield single and Ryan Lindemuth doubled into the right-center gap to put runners in scoring position with no outs. Tadd Bower later cut the Tribe's deficit to 8-4 with a RBI groundout.
Williams, a two-way product who came on in relief in the fifth, continued to show power, blasting his second homer of the day to make it a three-run game in the sixth.
The Tribe continued to rally and pulled within 8-6 on a two-out, eighth-inning single by Derek Lowe.
With the tying run at the plate and two outs in the ninth, Slattery hit a hard groundball off the glove of Cujas which deflected to freshman shortstop Landon Prentiss, who then fired to first for the final out.
VCU faces top-ranked University of Virginia on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Charlottesville, Va. The Rams return to The Diamond for a three-game CAA series against Delaware April 29-May 1.