FAIRFAX, Va. – Virginia Commonwealth University scored five runs in the ninth inning and rallied to defeat George Mason University, 12-9, Saturday afternoon in the second game of a three-game series at Spuhler Field. With the victory, VCU clinches a spot in the four-team Colonial Athletic Association Tournament May 26-30.
Junior Joe Van Meter was hit by a pitch to lead off the ninth and junior John Lenherr pulled the Rams with a run after he singled up the middle. Then with the bases loaded, sophomore Taylor Perkins lifted a ball over Mark Hill's head at third base and got past left fielder Brig Tison, rolled into the corner and four runs scored for VCU and the Rams took a 12-9 lead.
VCU improves to 29-20-1, 14-5-1 in CAA play, while George Mason drops its sixth straight and falls to 27-18, 10-10 in conference action.
Sophomore Brent Mikionis, who drove in four runs and hit his team-leading eighth homer, and Lenherr each went 3-for-4, while Van Meter and senior M.L. Morgan collected two hits apiece for the Rams.
Junior Jonathan Watson tossed two scoreless innings of relief to pick up his third win of the season and Robbie Andrews converted his ninth save.
It didn't take long for VCU to get on the board as the Rams plated a run in the top of the first. Senior Richard Gonzalez doubled to right with one out and advanced to third after Van Meter singled up the middle. MIkionis then gave VCU a 1-0 lead after he lifted a sacrifice fly into left center.
Lenherr kept it going for the Rams in the second as he singled to lead off the frame. Freshman Nick Kime reached on a fielder's choice and VCU had a pair of runners on with no out before Morgan extended VCU's lead to 2-0 with a two-out RBI single.
Shane Davis laced a leadoff double off the wall in right center to get George Mason started in the second but was later picked off trying to steal third. Dan Schafferman then followed with a double of his own, advanced to third on a wild pitch and came home on a fielder's choice to pull the Patriots within 2-1.
George Mason continued to threaten in the bottom of the fourth and the Patriots pushed across three more runs to take its first lead of the series at 4-2. Hill was hit by a pitch and Davis followed with a walk to start the inning before Dan Palumbo drove in a pair of runs with a double. Danny Lyons blooped a single into shallow right field and George Mason took a two-run advantage.
However, VCU got two runs back and tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the fifth. Gonzalez was hit by a pitch and moved to third after Van Meter collected his second hit of the day. Van Meter stole second but Lyons' throw sailed into center and Gonzalez came home. Mikionis then came through with a single up the middle and knotted the score.
Hill doubled to give George Mason a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the frame but VCU rallied again with a run in the top of the sixth to even the score again at 5-5.
Lyons, who made just his second career start, hit his first home run as a Patriot in the bottom of the sixth and George Mason regained the lead but a two-run blast by Mikionis put VCU back on top, 7-6, in the seventh.
The first four George Mason batters collected a hit to start the seventh and the Patriots went on to score three runs and took a 9-7 advantage before VCU staged a comeback in its final trip to the plate.
VCU and George Mason will conclude the three-game series on Sunday at 1 p.m.