TOWSON, Md. – Virginia Commonwealth University sent the tying run to the plate with two outs in the ninth but couldn't overcome a four-run deficit and fell 5-2 against Towson University Saturday afternoon in the second game of a three-game Colonial Athletic Association series at John B. Schuerholz Park.
VCU slips to 18-27 overall with a 9-14 mark in CAA play, while Towson improves to 24-21-1, 13-10. The Tigers are one of the hottest teams in the league having won 18 of their last 23 games. Towson is 18-5 since starting the season 6-16-1.
Freshman Bill Cullen went 2-for-4 with a run and classmate Joey Cujas finished 1-for-3 with a RBI to lead VCU offensively, while seven different Rams recorded a hit. Austin Harclerode and Chris Wychock paced Towson, going a combined 4-for-8 with three RBI, two runs, a double and homer.
Chris Acker, who improved to 4-0 on the mound, tossed a career-long eight innings for the Tigers. He allowed one earned run on eight hits with five strikeouts. VCU starter Kyle Haynes (4-7) suffered the loss after surrendering five runs (three earned) on eight hits in six frames. He struck out six and walked just one.
Freshman Chris Ayers reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error to lead off the fourth for VCU. Cujas followed with a base hit up the middle to put the Rams on top 1-0.
The lead didn't last long, however, as Harclerode tied the game with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the frame and Wychock doubled three batters later to give Towson a 2-1 advantage.
The Tigers added three more runs on four hits in the fifth to pull ahead 5-1. A double by Pat Fitzgerald and a single from Harclerode gave Towson a three-run cushion before Steve Rice capped off the inning with a sacrifice fly.
Junior reliever Josh Alford faced the minimum during the seventh and eighth to keep the Rams within four.
Cullen doubled to lead off the ninth, which was VCU's first hit since the fifth inning, and junior Paul Nice followed with a single into left to place runners on the corners with nobody out. Reliever Tyler Austin then got Ayers to ground into a double play but Cullen scored to make it 5-2. Cujas was hit by a pitch and Lenherr drew a walk, which brought the tying run to the plate with two outs. However, Austin was able to record the final out and clinch the series win.
Saturday's contest marked the first time Towson has beaten VCU in back-to-back games since 2004. The Tigers have never swept a three-game series against the Rams.
The series concludes Sunday at 1 p.m.