For years here in the Commonwealth, the University of Virginia displayed dominance as the team to beat in the in-state ballpark. VCU Baseball was UVA’s punching bag but this 2016 season had a different outcome as the Rams accomplished a feat 13 years in the making: sweeping the Cavaliers.
In the “Duel at The Diamond” back in early April, #14 UVA fell victim to the upset at the hands of the Rams. VCU kept the Cavaliers grounded at the start and thanks to a three-run homer by Daniel Carpenter in the bottom of the 5th inning, it was all she wrote as the Rams went on to win the duel 7-5.
Hungry for revenge in the rematch at Davenport Field, Virginia looked to defend home field Wednesday night in Charlottesville. UVA held a 4-2 lead heading into the top of the 5th inning where once again VCU took over the scoring festivities bringing in five runs. With some mediocre pitching and the Rams starting to hit the groove, Carpenter once again smacked a two-run shot out of the park as the exclamation point to a great inning for the Black & Gold.
UVA was unable to answer as VCU swept Virginia for the first time since 2003 with an 11-5 road win.
How big of a win was this? HUGE!
Sitting at 26-12 overall, you can say that VCU is having a pretty good season. In the midst of Atlantic 10 conference play VCU currently holds 2nd place with a 9-3 record. Adding all of those elements with the fact that the Rams just swept the defending NCAA Baseball National Champions equals a VCU Baseball team feeling and playing as if they can beat anyone, anytime and anywhere.
This confidence going around the bases is backed up by the VCU players stepping up their game. Along with Carpenter, Matt Davis has been putting the lumbar on the ball for an impressive 13 game on-base streak. Numerous Rams such as Cody Acker, James Bunn and Logan Farrar have stepped into the batter’s box and delivered making for a deep roster of hitters for VCU Head Coach Shawn Stiffler to choose from.
With hitting becoming a consistent threat to the opposition, VCU can make teams pay from either the box or the mound. Brooks Vial has become a spark in VCU’s pitching after collecting 15 strikeouts at La Salle while Michael Dailey sealed the deal and struck out an additional 10. In addition to the pitching arm found on Jonathan Ebersole’s shoulders, the Rams look like a complete team overall when all aspects are running smoothly.
Currently VCU Baseball is running right along with a seven game winning streak. Fielding is doing well with players actively communicating and moving the ball around the bases effectively during play. An error or two appears every now and then which derails progress for certain teams but the Rams are able to quickly see what went wrong and do not hesitate towards fixing the issue before implosion.
At this point of the season with four A-10 series remaining and another big road game at North Carolina on the schedule, VCU is in a good spot. Baseball is a long race to finish that tests your team’s morale and stamina while gathering as many wins as possible. During those heated moments, VCU can look back at this fact: VCU swept the University of Virginia in 2016.
That should be enough of a boost towards a promising season in the making for the Black & Gold.