RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia Commonwealth University used a four-run first inning and cruised to a 7-3 victory against in-state foe Virginia Military Institute Wednesday evening at The Diamond.
VCU concludes its four-game home stand with a victory and improves to 23-17-1 on the season, while VMI dropped its ninth in a row and falls to 29-14.
Junior Joe Van Meter extended his season-long hitting streak to 13 games and finished 3-for-4 with two runs and a RBI, while senior Matt Leskiw went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs and a RBI for the Rams.
VCU starter Ryan Farrar, who collected his second win of the season, retired the side in order in the top of the first. However, the setting sun began to glare through the concourse behind home plate and was a factor in the home half of the inning. VMI starter Adam Kruithof had trouble batting the sun from the beginning and the Rams used a four-run frame to take an early lead.
Junior Greg Fujii, who got the start at shortstop, singled to leadoff the inning, advanced to second on a wild pitch and came home after Leskiw singled up the middle. Van Meter looped a one-out RBI single into center before junior John Lenherr and sophomore Brent Mikionis reached to load the bases with one out. Sophomore Paul Nice then drove in a pair of runs with a double and VCU went ahead 4-0.
VMI reliever Chris Duty, who allowed a run in 4.2 innings with seven strikeouts, came in and fanned the final two batters of the first inning and allowed just one runner to reach base over the next three frames.
Farrar issued a leadoff walk to Chase Worthington before Cory Spangenberg lined a two-out double into left and VMI got on the board in the third inning.
Van Meter slid a ball through the left side of the VMI infield and collected his third hit of the day in the fifth. Mikionis later sent a two-out single into right and VCU extended its lead to 5-1.
The Rams added two more runs in the sixth and went ahead 7-1. Sophomore Taylor Perkins led off with a single up the middle and came home on a sacrifice fly by Fujii. Leskiw followed with a single into right and scored on a two-out double by senior Richard Gonzalez.
VMI answered with a pair of runs in the top of the seventh to pull within 7-3. Worthington reached on an infield single and Jacob Morley was hit by a pitch to place runners on first and second with one out. Sam Roberts then laid down a bunt single but Rams reliever Brennan Huelse's throw to first sailed over the head of Mikionis and two runs scored.
VCU resumes Colonial Athletic Association play this weekend when it travels to UNC Wilmington for a three-game set beginning Friday, April 30 at 6 p.m. The Rams and Seahawks are slated for a 4 p.m. start time on Saturday and will conclude the series on Sunday at 2 p.m.