RICHMOND, Va. – Sophomore Blake Hauser (Chesterfield, Va.) threw five scoreless innings and Virginia Commonwealth University pitchers escaped numerous jams on the way to a 4-2 victory over VMI Tuesday at The Diamond.
The Keydets (19-17-1) stranded 11 runners in the game, including six in the final three innings as the VCU bullpen managed to repeatedly bend without breaking.
The final escape came in the top of the ninth. Leading by a pair, VMI loaded the bases on three consecutive singles with one out. However, VCU senior Jonathan Watson (Richmond, Va.) got Berkley Hawkins to hit into a 4-3, game-ending double play.
Senior Michael Cheatham (Chesterfield, Va.) drove in two runs and sophomore Nick Kime (Stafford, Va.) blasted his fourth home run of the year to back Hauser's first victory of the 2011 season.
Hauser (1-3) scattered three hits and three walks over five shutout innings. He struck out three and managed to extinguish Keydet rallies in both the fourth and fifth innings and preserve a 2-0 lead.
The Rams (15-20) jumped out to a two-run advantage in the bottom of the first on an RBI groundout by freshman Joey Cujas (Midlothian, Va.), followed by a run-scoring single by Cheatham.
VMI scratched back to within 2-1, only to watch Kime blast reliever Campbell Henkel's first offering of the sixth inning over the left centerfield fence. Cheatham added an RBI groundout for insurance in the bottom of the seventh.
Watson worked a scorless, albeit tenuous, ninth inning for his fourth save of the year. Freshman Bill Cullen (Colonial Heights, Va.), junior Paul Nice (Powhatan, Va.) and Kime led an eight-hit VCU attack with two apiece.
The Rams return to action April 22-24 for a three-game series with Colonial Athletic Association foe William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va. Friday's first pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.