The Rams won their 6th conference series this year, when they took 2 of 3 from St. Josephs. This was arguably VCU’s most competitive three game set with a conference opponent. The Hawks are the only A10 team to score as many runs as the Rams during their series.
Starting the weekend with a victory
Shawn Stiffler’s guys had a great start in this series. His team’s first 7 batters reached base. Logan Farrar started the party by tattooing a line drive over the right field fence; it was the first pitch he saw of the game. Farrar would go 3-4 in Friday’s match-up.
After a Steven Carpenter double slammed into the wall in left-center, Darian Carpenter deposited a ball over the right field wall (his 10th on the year).
Some conservative base running led to an at bat with the bases loaded for Haiden Lamb. The senior singled to center, bringing in a run and keeping the bases loaded in a 4-0 game.
Then one of the rarest occurrences in baseball, a triple play, developed. Dylan Isquirdo hit a low line drive to the 2nd baseman, who made the catch for out 1, threw to 2nd base for out 2 and finally to 1st base to complete the triplet killing.
At the time it seemed like a harmless fluke, the guys would surely have no issues tacking on plenty of runs in the later frames. Instead of a resounding victory, the Black and Gold had to scrap against SJU.
The Hawks’ starter, Lucas Rollins was done after the 1st inning, causing the St. Joes’ relieve core to pitch 8 innings. They did an excellent, only allowing 3 runs.
Per usual, Sean Thompson was on the mound for the Friday start. The junior gave up 2 hits through the first 4 innings and just 1 run. With a 6-1 lead he went back out for the 5th and that’s where he ran into trouble. With 2 outs and a runner on 1st, Thompson tried a pick off move but a fielding error allowed the runner advanced to 2nd. Consecutive doubles would bring home 2 SJU runs. Thompson stopped the 2 out rally with his 8th strikeout of the game. The 5th inning ended with VCU’s lead cut to 3 runs.
Stiffler was able to squeeze one more inning from his starter, who provided a harmless 6th inning. Thompson exited the game after 6 IP, 6 hits, 3ER, 8K’s and 1BB. His team held a 6-3 advantage.
Late Inning Drama
Benjamin Dum arrived to pitch the 7th. His first two batters walked and singled. Dum got the third hitter to fly out but his day ended after that. Sam Donko came in with 8 outs to go in the game. Donko allowed both of Dum’s runners to score and was charged with a run in the inning. After 7 the game was tied at 6.
In the 8th, Farrar doubled with 1 out and Steven Carpenter broke tie the with an RBI single. VCU led 7-6. The theme of the weekend for Donko was adventurous 9th innings. This time he gave up a couple singles with 1 out. With runners on the corners in a 1 run game the All-American got a strike out and ground out to earn the victory. He had 4 K’s in 2 2/3 innings
The Hawks Even The Series
In Saturday’s showdown, Brooks Vial was on the hill. The senior was on an incredible tear coming into his start. He hadn’t surrendered a run in any of his previous 5 start. Vial reached at least the 7th inning in 4 of those 5 starts.
He would be charged with 6 runs in this appearance, he left after 5 2/3. The team was trailing 6-3. Fortunately his offense got him off the hook with a 3 run bottom of the 6th.
SJU scored a run in both the 7th and 8th innings to go up 8-6. VCU went 0-9 to end the game. St. Joes won 8-6.
Zac Ching was the only Ram with a multi-hit game. Ching went 2-3 with an RBI and a run scored.
VCU Takes The Weekend
In game 3 the Black and Gold got their offense working early. In the 1st inning a fielding error and 2 singles loaded the bases with 1 away. Brett Willet got hit by a pitch to force in Steven Carpenter from 3rd. That was all the Rams could do with that opportunity.
In the 2nd VCU plated 2 more runs. Darian Carpenter singled (1 of 4 hits for him) which led to a throwing error by the pitcher, scoring Daane Berezo from 2nd. Paul Witt added an RBI single, scoring Logan Farrar. The Rams held a 3-0 lead after 2 innings.
The Rams’ usual Sunday starter was on the mound for this one, Michael Dailey. He cruised through 6 innings, spreading out 5 hits however, he would run into trouble.
In the 7th inning with a 3-0 lead, Dailey allowed 1 out home-run to Taylor Boyd. Then a single and walk ended his day. Dum entered the game with runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out and trying to protect a 3-1 lead. The first batter he faced scored one of Dailey’s runners with a double. Dum struck out the final two batters, keeping his team in front, 3-2.
The Rams scores an unearned run in both the 7th and 8th innings, this gave them a 5-2 cushion headed into the 9th. Donko entered the game in the 8th and pitched a perfect inning. The closer made the 9th much more interesting. 4 of the first 5 batters singled, bringing home 2 Hawks. With the tying run on second, Donko used a strike out and a fly out to end the threat, sealing another win for the Rams. It was his 12th save this season.
Fighting For First
The Rams won their 6th consecutive A10 series thanks to the victory on Sunday. VCU is 15-3 in the A10. The preseason favorites, Rhode Island, are 13-4 after sweeping Fordham over the weekend. They started the weekend 2 ½ games back however, with VCU’s loss on Saturday they made up a game and sit just 1 ½ games behind the Black and Gold. Rhody finishes the season with George Mason and UMASS, meanwhile VCU has a couple road series with Dayton and Richmond.