RICHMOND, Va. – For the first seven innings of VCU's game with Georgia State on Friday night, it appeared the Rams would come away empty handed as Georgia State senior Justin Malone continued to rack up out-after-out while holding the Rams to just three hits.
But in the eighth and ninth innings, the Rams showed their resilience and stormed back from a 3-0 deficit, to claim a 4-3 victory over the Panthers.
After the Rams posted a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, VCU junior pitcher Blake Hauser came on and pitched a scoreless ninth, to keep the Black & Gold within striking distance.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, sophomore designated hitter Chris Ayers earned a five-pitch walk to get things going for the Rams. Ayers was then relieved on the bases by junior Robert Malan. Redshirt junior Taylor Buran hit a low-line drive through the left side of the infield, to put runners on first and second for VCU freshman infielder Vimael Machin. Machin, who was 0-for-3 at the plate prior to the at-bat, lined a single up the middle to score Malan, which tied the game and put the game-winning run on second base.
The Rams turned to their bench again, using sophomore Landon Prentiss to pinch-hit for senior catcher Nick Abrahamson. After a first-pitch ball, Prentiss found the pitch he was looking for and roped a single into left field, which scored Buran and sent the Rams into a frenzy at home plate. Prentiss has been red hot of late, recording four hits in his last six pinch-hit plate appearances.
"Landon has a done a great job for us, serving almost as a secret weapon off the bench," added VCU associate head coach Shawn Stiffler. "He has a great approach at the plate, always looking for something hard, and goes and gets it. I am really happy for him because he puts in the work."
The victory improves VCU's CAA record to 12-13, as the Rams continue their fight for a berth in the upcoming CAA tournament. The Black & Gold's overall record now stands at 26-20. Georgia State falls to 19-27 overall and 10-12 in league play.
"It was a great Friday night baseball game," added Stiffler. "Both starting pitchers were good and they were able to touch up Ryan Farrar there in the first inning, but he settled down. For us, it's not always easy and it may not always be working, but we have shown this season that we are a team that refuses to quit."
Georgia State jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, after collecting three hits off Farrar in the frame.
The Panthers would add on to their lead in the seventh inning, tacking on one run, before recording another lone run in the top of the eighth for a 3-0 advantage.
The Rams finally got on the board in the bottom of the eighth, as Abrahamson roped a one-out single up the middle to start things off. Senior outfielder Paul Nice followed with a single to center field, which allowed Abrahamson to take third; Nice would advance to second on the play, as the Panthers attempted to throw Abrahamson out at third. Sophomore outfielder Bill Cullen hit a grounder to the right side, which allowed Abrahamson to score and Nice to advance to third, for the second out of the inning. Nice would come home to score on a double to left center by junior Jordan Weymouth (pictured right), his second of the day, to cut the Panther's lead to one.
Hauser earned the victory for VCU, fanning three Georgia State batters, to improve his record on the year to 4-1. GSU's Jake Dyer suffered the loss, surrendering the game-tying and game-winning runs in the bottom of the ninth.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday, with the first pitch scheduled for 3 p.m. at The Diamond.