RICHMOND, Va. – The University of Richmond used a four-run eighth inning to defeat Virginia Commonwealth University 8-6 Tuesday evening at The Diamond in the first game of the Black & Blue Classic presented by Farm Bureau Insurance.
With the loss, VCU falls to 15-14 overall, while Richmond improves to 14-13. The Rams have now dropped three straight midweek games.
Junior John Lenherr led VCU at the plate as he went 2-for-4 with a run. Classmate Joe Van Meter finished 1-for-4 with a pair of RBI and senior Nate Furry hit his first home run of the season for the Rams.
Richmond leftfielder Billy Barber went 3-for-4 with three RBI and a run to pace the Spiders.
Adam McConnell led off the game with a single to left and Derek Boliek followed with a bunt single to place runners on first and second with no out for Richmond. Furry threw out McConnell trying to steal third before Barber lined an RBI-double into right and the Spiders took an early 1-0 lead.
VCU senior M.L. Morgan ripped the first pitch he saw deep into center field and was aboard with a leadoff triple in the bottom of the frame. He came home on a wild pitch and evened the score at 1-1.
Richmond then took a 2-1 advantage in the top of the third after Mike Mergenthaler sent a one-out double into left and came home on an RBI single by Barber.
The Spiders added two more runs in the fifth as Mergenthaler, who reached for the third time with a leadoff single, came around to score after Van Meter's throw to first on a Barber groundout sailed past Michael Cheatham. Cameron Brown then lifted a sacrifice fly into center and Richmond went ahead 4-1.
VCU used a four-run fifth inning to take its first lead of the game. Lenherr led off the frame with a double to right, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on an errant throw by catcher Evan Stehle. Furry followed with a solo home run over the left field wall and Van Meter came through with a two-out, two-RBI single to center and the Rams took a 5-4 advantage.
The Black & Gold added another run in the bottom of the seventh when freshman Nick Kime, who led off with a double, scored on an error by Boliek at second base.
However, Richmond regained the lead for good with four runs of their own in the eighth after Van Meter and Watson combined to hit four batters, walked another and surrendered a pair of singles.
Watson, who suffered his first loss of the season, saw an 11.2 scoreless innings streak come to an end. It marked the first runs the righthander had allowed since March 20 against Western Kentucky.
Ian Marshall picked up his second win of the year for Richmond after allowing one unearned run on a pair of hits in 2.0 innings.
VCU will return to Colonial Athletic Association play this weekend when it travels to Towson University for a three-game series beginning Friday, April 9 at 3 p.m. VCU and Richmond will meet again on Wed., April 14 at 3 p.m. at Pitt Field in the final game of the Black & Blue Classic.