HARRISONBURG, Va. – The VCU Baseball team kept its season alive, with a 14-9 victory over Towson in an elimination game at the 2012 Virginia 529 CAA Baseball Tournament held at James Madison University.
With the victory, VCU advances in the tournament, and will play No. 2 seed Hofstra in another elimination game on Friday at 3:30 p.m. VCU, the No. 5 seed, improves to 34-24 on the year. Towson's season comes to a close with the loss, with the Tigers overall record dropping to 27-31.
"We are excited that we are moving on," said VCU associate head coach Shawn Stiffler. "From here on, every time you win, you are sending someone home, and that is a good thing. Kyle Haynes was just extraordinary, it doesn't look like it in the box score, because the game got out of hand. He went out and basically saved the pitching staff with his performance tonight. He got great run support behind him, as we got contributions up and down the lineup tonight, with Mikionis and Cujas really leading the way. This time of year, you are not going to win them pretty, it's just about continuing to win."
Towson jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning, as Dominic Fratantuono homered over the right field wall, driving in three runs in the process.
The Rams knotted the score at 3-3 in the bottom of the third inning, off one swing of the bat from redshirt junior infielder Brent Mikionis. After sophomore designated hitter Chris Ayers led off with a double over the right fielder's head, freshman infielder Vimael Machin roped a single up the middle to put runners on the corners for Mikionis (pictured right). The Powhatan, Va., native followed with a towering fly ball that cleared the outfield wall, for his seventh home run of the season.
VCU added four more runs in the bottom of the third inning, for a 7-3 advantage. Junior infielder Jordan Weymouth drew a leadoff walk, then advanced to second on a one-out single through the left side by redshirt junior outfielder Taylor Buran. Weymouth was putout at third on a fielder's choice on Chris Ayer's hit, which put runners on first and second with two outs. Machin slapped a single through the right side, which scored Buran on the play, then allowed Ayers and Machin to advance one additional base on a throw to the plate. Mikionis drove in his fourth and fifth RBI, with a single to center, that scored Ayers and Machin. Senior catcher Taylor Perkins followed with a triple to right field, his first of the season, that scored Mikionis all the way from first.
Fratantuono delivered his second home run of the game in the top of the fourth inning, to cut the Rams' lead to 7-4.
The Rams would put the game out of reach in the seventh and eighth innings, scoring a combined seven runs over the two innings. Cujas put a cap on the scoring for VCU in the eighth, with a three-run home run to left center.
The Tigers manufactured five runs in the top of the ninth, to bring the score to its final at 14-9, allowing the Rams to move on to Friday's portion of the tournament against Hofstra. The Pride swept the season series against the Rams.
"It is going to be tough," added Stiffler. "They are playing just their second game, while we are playing our fourth. We need to throw strikes, stay within our approach and I believe we are going to score some runs against them."
Haynes earned the victory for VCU, pitching eight and two-thirds innings, while allowing nine hits and fanning six Towson batters.
Cujas, Machin and Mikionis led the Rams offensively in the contest, as the three each roped three hits in the contest. Mikionis registered five RBI in the victory, while Cujas and Machin each finished with three runs driven in.