RICHMOND, Va. – VCU redshirt junior Taylor Buran finished tonight's game with three hits, but it will be the last one that fans and members of the VCU Baseball team will remember most.
With the game tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth inning and teammate Joey Cujas standing on third and two outs in the inning, Buran laid a perfect bunt single down the third base line to score Cujas and hand the Rams a decisive 5-4 victory over Liberty on Wednesday night at The Diamond.
The Rams have now won five-straight games and own a 17-12 overall record on the season. Liberty drops to 25-7 on the season.
"I told the guys before the game that it was setting up to be a really exciting and fun game between two evenly matched teams," said VCU head coach Paul Keyes. "We did a good job of executing and it gives us a nice win going into the weekend, which hopefully leads to some needed momentum for this weekend's series against George Mason."
Liberty pulled ahead 2-0 in the top of the fourth inning, pushing across a pair of runs against senior pitcher Seth Cutler-Voltz.
The Flames added a third run in the top of the fourth, extending its lead to 3-0.
The Rams got things going in the bottom half of the frame, as senior outfielder Paul Nice roped a one-out single up the middle. Sophomore outfielder Bill Cullen lined a single through the right side of the infield, which enabled Nice to advance to third. With junior infielder Jordan Weymouth at the plate, the Liberty pitcher threw a wild pitch in the dirt, allowing Nice to score and Cullen to take second.
Later in the at-bat, Weymouth (pictured right) sent a shot into deep left centerfield and scrambled all the way to third for a standup triple, scoring Cullen in the process. After Cujas drew a walk, redshirt junior Brent Mikionis hit a sacrifice fly to center, which brought home Weymouth and knotted the score at 3-3.
The Rams took their first lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, pushing across one run in the frame. Buran singled through the left side with one out to get things going. Freshman infielder Vimael Machin drew a walk on a full count to advance Buran to second. Senior catcher Nick Abrahamson then lined a single up the middle, plating Buran all the way from second and giving VCU a 4-3 advantage.
The Flames were able to scrap together the tying run with one out in the top of the ninth off VCU pitcher Blake Hauser, but the junior was able to come back with a strikeout and a foul out to the catcher to end the inning.
Cujas, the eventual game-winning run, earned a free pass to first following a called catcher's interference by the umpire. The Midlothian, Va., native advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mikionis, before taking third on a hard hit groundout to the shortstop by Ayers, setting up Buran's heroics.
Hauser earned the victory for the Rams, improving his record on the season to 1-1. Patrick Bankemper suffered the loss for the Flames, dropping his record to 2-2.
The Rams will next be in action this Friday, hosting George Mason in the first game of a three-game weekend series between the two CAA schools. First pitch for Friday's game is scheduled for 6 p.m.