RICHMOND, Va. – As frustrating as baseball can be, it can be a thing of beauty when everything is clicking.
Exhibit A: Sunday afternoon at The Diamond.
That's where the Virginia Commonwealth University baseball team used a total team effort to pick up their third straight Sunday victory with a 9-1 defeat of first-place Delaware. The Rams were paced by senior David Benson, who tossed the first complete game of the year for VCU, while the offense followed suit with 17 hits on the afternoon.
"I'm proud of the way our guys approached today and were locked in to all aspects of the game," Assistant Coach Shawn Stiffler said. "Benson gave us a big lift on the mound with a great defensive effort behind him, which allowed our guys to really relax at the plate and stroke the ball all over the yard. This is the type of mentality we need to bring every time we step on the field."
Benson, a transfer from Centenary College, scattered seven Delaware hits over nine innings, while not walking a single batter and striking out six. It was an efficient effort by the veteran, tossing just 99 pitched on the day, 67 of which were strikes.
Offensively, the Black & Gold ripped 17 hits, the most in over a month. Every Ram hitter collected a hit with freshman Bill Cullen leading the way with a career-high four hits on the day.
Delaware would threaten early and often, but Benson would not break, holding the potent Fightin' Blue Hen attack off the scoreboard until an RBI groundout by Nick Ferdinand gave the visitors a 1-0 advantage in the top of the third inning.
The Rams would respond immediately in their half of the third with freshman Landon Prentiss, Cullen and junior Paul Nice putting together three consecutive singles to load the bases with no outs. After Delaware starter Matt Soren got a strikeout, freshman Joey Cujas scorched a bases-clearing double into left center to give VCU a 3-1 lead.
Later in the frame, junior Taylor Perkins brought Cujas home with an RBI single to center, which pushed the cushion to 4-1.
Nice gave the Rams a four-run lead with an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth, before VCU put the game out off reach in the fifth. That's when Perkins launched a two-run bomb down the left field line and freshman Kyle Sutherland laced an RBI single into right field to score Michael Cheatham, which gave the Black & Gold a comfortable 8-1 advantage.
In the meantime, Benson cruised on the bump, retiring the last 13 Delaware hitters to improve to 4-2 on the campaign.
The Rams are back in action on Tuesday night when they host #1 Virginia in a 7 p.m. contest. It will be Dollar Dog Day with VCU Head Basketball Coach Shaka Smart on hand to throw out the first pitch.