TOWSON, Md. – Virginia Commonwealth University scored two runs in the eighth inning and rallied to defeat Towson University 9-8 Sunday afternoon at John B. Schuerholz Park. With the victory, VCU completed its second Colonial Athletic Association series sweep of the season.
VCU (18-14, 8-1 CAA) has now won 12 of its last 13 games in the series and gave Towson (9-23, 5-7 CAA) its first CAA sweep at home since defeating the Tigers in similar fashion in 2007.
Senior Doug Otto went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI and a double. Junior Joe Van Meter pulled double duty going 3-for-5 with an RBI at the plate, while making his second start of the season on the mound. All nine players in the VCU lineup collected at least one hit with six players tallying two or more.
Sophomore Kyle Pelchy picked up his first win of the season after allowing one run on three hits in three innings of work. Senior Robby Andrews fanned two and retired Towson in order in the eighth and ninth to pick up his second straight save and sixth of the season.
For the second day in a row VCU got on the board with a pair of runs in the first inning. Senior Matt Leskiw led off the game with a double down the right field line and sophomore Richard Gonzalez was hit by a pitch to place runners on first and second with no out. Leskiw later scored on a passed ball and Van Meter continued his streak with an RBI-single through the left side of the infield and the Rams went ahead early, 2-0.
The Towson bats came alive as the Tigers made a statement with a four-run first inning. Ben Winter led off with a double over the head of Nice in left field and Kevin Collins drew a one-out walk. In his first plate appearance of the series, Steve Yarsinsky, who missed the first two games of the weekend after being hospitalized with a virus, came through with a two-RBI single to center and knotted the score at two runs apiece. Chris Wychock then sent Van Meter's one-out offering over the left field wall and Towson pulled ahead, 4-2.
VCU scratched a run across in the top of the second after sophomore Taylor Perkins, freshman Nick Kime and Leskiw all reached to load the bases with no out. Gonzalez hit a comebacker off of the glove of pitcher Tyler Austin and shortstop Nick Natoli was able to recover, step on second and make the throw to first. However, Perkins came home on the play and the Rams pulled within 4-3.
Towson got a run back in the bottom of the frame but Nice, Perkins and Kime each collected an RBI as the Rams used a three-run third inning to regain the lead, 6-5.
A solo home run by Kurt Wertz evened the score again at 6-6 but Otto put the Rams back on top with a solo shot of his own in the fourth.
A sacrifice fly by Collins plated Austin Harclerode in the bottom of the frame and Towson tied the game again at 7-7.
After back-to-back scoreless innings for the first time all game, Wychock broke the tie with an RBI single into left field and gave Towson an 8-7 advantage.
VCU tied the game for the fifth time and eventually took the lead with a pair of runs in the top of the eighth. Perkins roped a leadoff double into left field and Greg Fujii, who pinch ran for Perkins, scored on a single by Gonzalez with one out. Otto then collected his third hit of the day with an RBI single into right and Lewkiw came home to put VCU back on top 9-8.
VCU returns to action Wednesday, April 14 when it
faces cross-town rival University of Richmond in the second game of
the Farm Bureau Insurance Black & Blue Baseball Classic.
The first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Pitt Field.