GREENVILLE, N.C. – The VCU Baseball team headed south for its midweek game against No. 25 East Carolina on Tuesday during VCU's spring break, and the Rams went wild. The Rams put together 18 hits in an 18-11 victory over the host Pirates in front of 2,349 in attendance at Clark-LeClair Field.
VCU improves to 11-6 on the year with the victory, while East Carolina drops to 11-4 with the setback.
"We got behind the eight-ball pretty early in this one by giving up the five runs in the bottom of the first," said Keyes. "Seth (Culter-Voltz) didn't come out with his best stuff and they did a great job of jumping out on him, but we answered right back. We made the plays defensively the rest of the way and put together our best performance offensively in terms of hitting up and down the entire lineup."
The Rams manufactured a run in the top of the first, as sophomore outfielder Bill Cullen started things off with a double over the left fielder's head. After the Pirates recorded the first out, sophomore infielder Joey Cujas drew a four-pitch walk to put runners on first and second. ECU forced the Rams into their second out of the inning by way of a strikeout, before sophomore designated hitter Chris Ayers roped a single up the middle to score Cullen. The inning ended as Cujas tried to take third on the play, but the center fielder threw him out trying to advance.
The Pirates came back strong in the bottom of the frame, pushing across five runs. ECU's Zach Wright capped off the inning with a two-run home run over the wall in right center to hand the Pirates a 5-1 lead.
VCU responded immediately, scoring four runs in the top of the second to knot the score at 5-5. Freshman infielder Vimael Machin got things going with a one-out double into right center field. Sophomore outfielder Landon Prentiss drew a walk, before senior outfielder Paul Nice drew a pitch in his side to load the bases for Cullen. The Colonial Heights, Va., native hit a deep fly ball over the centerfielder, scoring three runs and landing Cullen all the way on third base. Cullen came home to score on a single up the middle by junior infielder Jordan Weymouth.
VCU freshman pitcher Heath Dwyer (pictured right) came into the game in the bottom of the second and retired the first three batters, registering the first scoreless frame of the evening.
After ECU tallied one run in the bottom of the third gain a 6-5 lead, VCU pushed across a run of its own in the top of the fourth inning. Cullen drew a walk to lead off the inning, before forcing the pitcher to throw an errant toss over to first, which allowed the sophomore to take second. Weymouth grounded out to the second baseman, allowing Cullen to move to third. Cujas plated Cullen with a groundout to the second baseman.
The Rams jumped out to a 12-6 lead in the top of the sixth on six runs, five hits and one error by the Pirates. After Nice led off the inning with a walk, Cullen hit a double into left center. Weymouth took a pitch in the back to load things up for Cujas, who zipped a single through the left side to score Nice and Cullen. Senior catcher Taylor Perkins followed that up with a double down the left field line, which plated Weymouth. Ayers lifted a single into right field, which scored both Cujas and Perkins. Ayers would eventually make his way to third, before scoring on a throwing error by the Pirates following a lineout to the first baseman.
Over the last three innings, the Rams outscored the Pirates 6-5, to push the score to its final at 18-11.
Dwyer grabbed his second victory of the 2012 campaign, throwing six and one-third innings out of the bullpen.
"Heath came in after we let up those runs in the first and really did a great job. With this performance, he solidfied that midweek role for us and has the chance for more if he keeps getting better every outing," added Keyes.
VCU will continue play on the road this upcoming weekend at CAA conference member Hofstra, for a three-game series. The first game is scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m.