CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia Commonwealth University scored three runs in the ninth inning but couldn't erase a five-run deficit and fell to St. John's University, 8-6, Saturday afternoon in the elimination game of the 2010 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship at Davenport Field.
With a five-run advantage heading into the ninth, St. John's, which also eliminated the Rams in the 2007 NCAA Regional, walked the bases loaded with one out before junior Joe Van Meter (right) and sophomore Brent Mikionis came through with back-to-back two-out singles and pulled VCU within 8-6. But Red Storm reliever Daniel Burawa got senior M.L. Morgan to fly out to left and halted the Rams' rally.
Mikionis went 4-for-5 with three RBI, including his team-leading 11th home run of the year, while Van Meter, who set VCU's single season RBI record with 76, finished 2-for-5 with a run and two RBI. Senior Richard Gonzalez and sophomore Paul Nice each collected a hit for the Rams.
The long ball was the story early as Mikionis hit a two-run shot in the top of the first inning but St. John's quickly answered with three straight solo home runs with one out in the bottom half to take a 3-2 lead.
Senior Doug Otto then drew a walk to start the second frame and scored on a groundout by sophomore Taylor Perkins, and VCU knotted the score at 3-3. But the St. John's bats remained hot and Matt Wessinger hit his second home run of the day to put the Red Storm back on top, 5-3, in the bottom of the second.
Wessinger collected his fourth RBI of the day with a single into right and Jeremy Baltz gave St. John's a 7-3 advantage in the fourth with a sacrifice fly.
Watson, who made his team-leading 31st relief
appearance in the fourth inning, allowed one run in 4.2 frames but
VCU couldn't overcome the five-run deficit. Aside from a pair
of Mikionis singles and an infield hit by Gonzalez, the Rams
couldn't generate much offense until the final frame.
The Charlottesville Regional marked the first time in program history VCU participated in a Regional inside the Commonwealth of Virginia. Prior to this season, the closest Regional for the Rams came in 2003 when they traveled to Wilson, N.C., where VCU last won a NCAA Tournament game.