TOWSON, Md. – Virginia Commonwealth University made it a one-run game in the eighth but Towson University answered the Rams' rally in the bottom of the frame and held on to defeat VCU, 7-4, Friday afternoon in first of a three-game Colonial Athletic Association series at John B. Schuerholz Park. The loss snaps the Rams' seven-game road winning streak against the Tigers.
VCU, which had won 17 of the last 20 in the series, slips to 18-26 overall, 9-13 in CAA play. Towson, which continues its hot streak picking up its 17th win in its last 22 games, improves to 23-21-1, 12-10.
Charlie Cononie (7-2) picked up the win for Towson, allowing one earned run on six hits in 6 2/3 innings, while junior Seth Cutler-Voltz (1-7) suffered the loss for VCU.
Junior Taylor Perkins fouled a ball of his foot to stay alive in the second and drew a two-out walk to spark an early VCU rally. Senior Michael Cheatham singled to place runners on the corners and Sutherland legged out an infield hit to put the Rams on top 1-0.
After stranding a pair of runners in scoring position in the fourth, Towson erupted for four runs in the fifth to take the lead for good. Pat Fitzgerald doubled home Bryan Wyman to even the score. Austin Harclerode then drove in a pair with a base hit up the middle and scored on an infield single by Parker to give the Tigers a 4-1 advantage.
Towson tried to add to its lead in the sixth as an infield single by Dominic Fratantuono loaded the bases with one out but junior reliever Josh Alford came out of the bullpen and retired the final two batters to end the Tigers' threat.
VCU would get a run back in the seventh when Towson catcher Andrew Parker was called for interference with the bases loaded. Cullen singled, junior Paul Nice doubled and senior John Lenherr drew a walk with two outs to start the rally. Cujas was awarded first base when his bat hit Parker's glove and VCU pulled within 4-2.
However, the Tigers used a two-out rally of their own in the bottom of the inning to go back in front by three. Steve Rice lifted a double into left and scored on a single by Chris Wychuck a batter later.
The Rams continued to battle and scored two more runs with two outs in the eighth to pull within 5-4. Cheatham walked and Sutherland singled into right before a groundout by freshman Chris Ayers moved the pair into scoring position. Cullen then singled to center to make it a one-run game.
Towson again had an answer in the bottom of the frame as Harclerode, who drove in his third and fourth RBI of the game, extended the Tigers' lead to 7-4 on a two-out base hit.
VCU and Towson continue with game two Saturday at 1 p.m. and conclude the three-game series Sunday at 1 p.m.