LYNCHBURG, Va. – Liberty University third baseman Tyler Bream hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth and the Flames rallied for a 7-6 victory against Virginia Commonwealth University Tuesday evening at Worthington Stadium.
VCU took a 6-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning but Liberty rallied to score three runs, including the walk-off homer, in its final two trips to the plate.
The Rams, which had their season-long six-game winning streak snapped, fell to 30-21-1, while Liberty rebounded from a weekend sweep against nationally ranked Coastal Carolina to improve its record to 38-15.
Junior Joe Van Meter led VCU offensively with a 3-for-4 outing at the plate and is just 10 hits shy of tying the Rams' single season record. Freshman Nick Kime and sophomore Taylor Perkins each went 2-for-4 and combined to score four of the Black & Gold's six runs.
VCU, which scored half of its runs on wild pitches, struck in the top of the first as senior Richard Gonzalez drew a one-out walk and later scored on a wild pitch. Junior John Lenherr nearly gave the Rams a two-run advantage after he sent a two-out single into right, but Van Meter, who also singled in the frame, was thrown out at the plate.
The Rams didn't lead for long, however, as Bream lined a two-out home run over the left field fence in the bottom of the inning and Liberty knotted the score at 1-1.
VCU quickly chased Flames starter Keegan Linza after rallying with a pair of runs in the second. Kime and Perkins led off the frame with back-to-back singles before senior M.L. Morgan gave VCU the lead with a single into left. Perkins later extended the Rams advantage to 3-1 after he scored on Linza's third wild pitch of the game.
Michael Robertson sent a RBI triple down the right field line and Liberty pulled within a run in the bottom of the second before the Flames used a two-run fifth frame to take their first lead of the game at 4-3.
Morgan led off the seventh with a bunt single and stole second to start the VCU rally. Van Meter drew a two-out walk but Liberty reliever Dane Beakler's offering was in the dirt and got past catcher Nathan Thompson and Gonzalez moved over to third. The Rams then scored their third run on a wild pitch as Gonzalez raced home and tied the game at 4-4.
Kime doubled over the head of center fielder Curran Redal to put the go-ahead run in scoring position with one out in the eighth. Perkins followed with a single up the middle to put VCU ahead and scored on a Liberty throwing error, and the Rams took a 6-4 advantage.
Liberty got a run back in the bottom of the inning as the first two batters reached. Thompson sacrificed the runners into scoring position and Austin Taylor's RBI groundout pulled the Flames within 6-5. With runners on the corners, senior Matt Leskiw came up with a sliding catch in left field for the final out and preserved the VCU lead.
Redal lined the first pitch he saw into left field and moved into scoring position following a groundout by Matt Williams to setup the game-winner for Liberty in the ninth. Bream then hit his second home run of the day in left and gave the Flames the walk-off win.
VCU concludes its regular season schedule as it hosts James Madison University at The Diamond for a three-game series beginning Friday, May 21 at 7 p.m.