RICHMOND, Va. – Hofstra University rallied to score five unanswered runs over the final three innings but a pinch hit single by junior Kyle Sutherland gave Virginia Commonwealth University a 6-5 win against the Pride Thursday afternoon in the opening game of a three-game Colonial Athletic Association series at The Diamond.
Hofstra scored two runs on a pair of VCU miscues in the top of the ninth to knot the game at 5-5, but back-to-back one-out walks by senior John Lenherr and junior Taylor Perkins in the bottom of the frame set up Sutherland's game-winning hit.
VCU wins its second game in a row and improves to 20-28 overall with a 10-15 mark in CAA play. Hofstra, which was coming off a 5-0 victory at 14th-ranked Miami on Sunday, slips to 12-30, 9-16.
Freshman Bill Cullen (pictured, right) went 4-for-5 with a run and RBI, while senior Michael Caddell finished 3-for-3 with a run and two RBI to pace VCU. Freshmen Joey Cujas and Landon Prentiss, and Perkins collected two hits apiece for the Rams. Caddell has reached in eight straight trips to the plate, including a pair of walks and six hits. In his last two games, the Raleigh, N.C. native is 6-for-6 with a triple, two runs, two walks and a pair of RBI.
Dylan Nasiatka and Danny Poma collected six of Hofstra's 11 hits in the game.
Junior Seth Cutler-Voltz, who left the game with a 5-3 lead in the seventh, allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings but did not record a decision as Hofstra rallied to tie it. Senior Jonathan Watson (4-4) picked up the win after a sacrifice fly plated the tying run for the Pride in the top of the ninth.
VCU scored runs during its first two trips to the plate and jumped out to a 2-0 lead after two innings. Cullen led off the first with a single up the middle and later scored on a sacrifice fly by senior Michael Cheatham. Perkins then doubled to start the second inning and came home on a base hit by Caddell to hand VCU an early two-run advantage.
Caddell then collected his second RBI of the game and pushed the Rams' lead to 3-0 in the fourth. Prentiss doubled with two outs and scored a batter later to make it a three-run game.
Hofstra stranded runners at third base in three of the first six innings. The Pride had runners on the corners with one out in the sixth but Cutler-Voltz and the Rams picked off Poma trying to move to second and got Kenny Jackson to fly out to keep Hofstra off the board.
VCU eventually added a pair of runs in the sixth to stake a 5-0 advantage. After Prentiss and Caddell reached on back-to-back singles with one out, Cullen lifted a RBI double into right center. A base hit by Cujas gave the Black & Gold a five-run cushion.
Hofstra mounted a rally in the top of the seventh as the Pride reeled off five straight hits with two outs and cut the Rams' lead to 5-3. Dylan Nasiatka drove in one with a single into center and Matt Reistetter collected a pair of RBI with a double a batter later. But sophomore reliever Brennan Huelse got the Rams out of a bases loaded jam when he came out of the bullpen and struck out pinch hitter T.J. Thomas to end the threat.
The Pride continued to rally and took advantage of a pair of ninth-inning VCU miscues to tie the score at 5-5. Stephan Kungl struck out to lead off the frame but reached as the ball got by Perkins behind the plate. Nasiatka followed with a single up the middle and Reistetter reached on a throwing error by Huelse, which pulled Hofstra within a run. Poma was intentionally walked to load the bases and Thomas came through two batters later with a sacrifice fly to even the score.
VCU continues its three-game series against Hofstra Friday at 11:30 a.m. The Rams and Pride will conclude the series Saturday at 11 a.m. It will mark VCU's final home game of the season.