LONG BEACH, Calif. – The VCU baseball team saw its dramatic weekend series with perennial power Long Beach State come to an end on Sunday, with yet another one-run ball game that kept the fans on the edge of their seats.
Unfortunately for the Black & Gold, they cameout on the wrong side with the Dirtbags taking home a 3-2 victory to claim the rubber match of the three-game series. Although, the Rams came out of the weekend 1-2, Head Coach Paul Keyes and his coaching staff saw a lot to be proud of.
"I thought we controlled the game as far as the stat sheet went," said VCU Head Coach Paul Keyes. "(RHP) Kyle Pelchy was outstanding on the mound and gave us exactly the kind of outing we needed from a senior after a tough loss last night. I thought we jumped out on them early pretty well, but had some execution problems early in the game offensively. If we had been able to execute, we could have spaced the lead out and put together a five or six nothing lead. You have to give credit to Long Beach State though, they did a good job creating runs, especially since Kyle may have had one real mistake all day."
The Rams took an early lead in the game, pushing across a pair of runs in the top of the third. Sophomore Bill Cullen and junior Jordan Weymouth kicked things off with singles through the right side, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Sophomore Joey Cujas came to the plate, and ripped the early offering down the right field line for a double, scoring both Weymouth and Cullen.
Long Beach State manufactured its first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth, with Ino Patron reaching first on a single up the middle. Brennan Metzger followed that up with a double down the third base line, plating Patron all the way from first.
The Dirtbags took the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth, recording two runs in the frame. Robert Vickers started off the inning with a single, before Avila ripped a double down the third base line, scoring Vickers from first. Avila would take third on a groundout to first, before coming home on a squeeze play by Kellen Hoime.
The Rams continued to piece together hits, but were unable to come away with runs down the stretch.
The best opportunity for the Rams came in the top of the ninth, with Cullen, fighting off pitch after pitch with two outs to keep the game going. Cullen finally found a pitch he liked and roped it into right field for a single. Long Beach made a pitching change after Cullen's hit, sending a lefty out to face Weymouth. Weymouth watched three straight pitches go for balls, before a pair of strikes brought the count to 3-2. Weymouth took the 3-2 offering and grounded out to the second baseman to end the game.
Long Beach State starter Ryan Strufing went 6 and 2/3rds innings to earn the victory, allowing two runs and eight hits. Landon Hunt came in to face one batter to earn the save for the Dirtbags. Pelchy absorbed the loss for VCU, throwing seven strong innings and firing off just 92 pitches in the contest.
"I thought the guys effort was there all day long and that we played well; it's a shame that we come out of the weekend at 1-2," Keyes said.
The Rams will continue play in California this week, squaring off against Pepperdine this Tuesday and Wednesday in a two-game set. Game time for both contests is scheduled for 2 p.m., pacific time.