May 8, 2011

RAMS DROP SERIES FINALE AT TOWSON 10-4

TOWSON, Md. – After Towson jumped out to an early six-run advantage, VCU battled back and pulled within 7-4 in the sixth but it was as close as the Rams would get as the Tigers completed their first-ever series sweep of the Black & Gold with a 10-4 victory Sunday afternoon in the finale of a three-game Colonial Athletic Association set at John B. Schuerholz Park.

VCU, which was swept for the first time all season, slips to 18-28 overall with a 9-15 mark in CAA play.  It was just the Rams' third conference loss by more than three runs.  Towson improves to 25-21-1, 14-10.  The Tigers have won 19 of their last 24 games.

Freshman Bill Cullen went 2-for-5 with a double, triple and two RBI, while senior Michael Cheatham finished 2-for-4 to pace VCU offensively.  Steve Rice and Nick Natoli had two hits apiece for Towson.

Michael Trionfo (3-5) picked up his third win of the year, allowing three runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings.  Senior David Benson (4-3) suffered the loss for VCU.

Benson struggled to find the zone early as he walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the first before cleanup batter Andrew Parker put Towson on the board with a single into left.  The Rams were able to minimize early damage, however, as Benson got Rice to bounce into a double play, which allowed a run to score to put the Tigers in front 2-0, before Chris Whychock flew out to end the threat.

The Rams nearly returned the favor in the top of the second, loading the bases with one out after a pair of singles from sophomore Nick Kime and Cheatham, along with a Towson fielding error.  But after freshman Landon Prentiss lifted a fly ball into right field, Rice threw out Kime at the plate tagging from third.

Benson regrouped, made quick work of the Tigers in the bottom of the inning, and VCU scratched a run in the third.  Cullen doubled to lead off the frame and later scored on a sacrifice fly by senior John Lenherr, which pulled the Rams with 2-1.

However, a leadoff homer by Natoli, his third of the year, in the home half of the third sparked a four-run outburst to halt the Rams' rally.  Then, a RBI double from Rice and a bloop single by Gonnella pushed the Tigers' lead to 6-1.

Dominic Fratantuono singled and scored on a bunt by Pat Fitzgerald to build a six-run Towson margin in the fourth.

VCU eventually took advantage of two walks and pulled within 7-4 in the sixth.  Juniors Taylor Perkins and Kyle Sutherland were each issued free passes before a base hit by Prentiss drove in one and Cullen added two more on a triple into the right center gap (all with two outs).

But as Towson has done all series, it answered with a run in the bottom of the inning.  Fratantuono was hit by a pitch with one away and later scored on a groundout by Fitzgerald.

The Tigers added two more in the seventh to stake a 10-4 lead.

VCU returns home to face cross-town rival University of Richmond Tuesday, May 10 at The Diamond.  First pitch is set for 7 p.m.

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