RICHMOND, Va. – The VCU Baseball team closed out its weekend series with a 6-4 victory over Georgia State on Sunday afternoon at The Diamond, which claimed the series victory and kept the Rams in the CAA Tournament hunt.
The Rams record in the CAA now stands at 13-14, with a 27-21 victory overall. The Panthers drop to 11-13 in the league and 20-28 overall.
"It was just one of those wins that we really grinded out," said VCU associate head coach Shawn Stiffler. "The difference between our result today and on Saturday, was our two-out hitting; we put together a three-run sixth inning, with all those runs coming with two outs. The guys really competed for their at-bats all game long."
The Panthers pulled ahead in the top of the second inning, scoring one run off VCU starting pitcher Kyle Haynes.
The Rams knotted things up the in the bottom of the fourth inning, with redshirt junior outfielder Taylor Buran leading off the inning with a single to left field. The Richmond, Va., native would advance two bases on a wild pitch during sophomore designated hitter Chris Ayers' at-bat. Ayers would later drive in Buran with a single to left field.
Georgia State regained the lead in the top of the fifth with a lone run, before adding another run in the top of the sixth inning for a 3-1 advantage.
The Rams went to work in the bottom of the sixth three runs due to some timely two-out hitting, an area the Black & Gold struggled with in Saturday's loss. After Ayers drew a two-out walk, freshman infielder Vimael Machin belted a double to left field, which scored Ayers all the way from first. Redshirt junior infielder Brent Mikionis staved off several pitches with foul balls during a full count, before earning ball-four for a walk to keep the inning alive. Following a Georgia State pitching change, senior catcher Nick Abrahamson roped a single through the left side, which scored Machin and tied the contest at 3-3. After senior outfielder Paul Nice drew a pitch off his arm to load the bases, sophomore outfielder Bill Cullen earned a four-pitch walk that handed the Rams a 4-3 lead.
VCU tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, after Abrahamson (pictured right) poked a one-out single down the right line to get things started. The Midlothian, Va., native would take third on a single to center field by Nice, sliding into third head first before the tag, which allowed Nice to advance to second on the play. The Panthers intentionally walked Cullen to load the bases to get to junior infielder Jordan Weymouth. The Paradise Valley, Ariz., native made the Panthers regret the decision, as he lined a single through the right side, which scored two Abrahamson and Nice.
Georgia State pushed across one run in the top of the ninth, but it wouldn't be enough to overcome the Rams' lead.
VCU senior pitcher Kyle Pelchy earned the victory, with two innings pitch, to improve his record to 4-3 on the year.
Junior pitcher Blake Hauser recorded a seven-out save, fanning five Georgia State batters, on the way to his 10th save of the season.
"It's elimination time, so we had to get a little bit outside of the box to get the victory and keep us in the hunt for a berth in the CAA Tournament," added Stiffler on Hauser's performance. "The great thing about Blake, is he is willing to take whatever type of workload we are willing to give him. He is one of the top pitchers on the team and we needed another great performance out of him today."
VCU will close out the current home stand this Tuesday, with a non-conference contest against cross-town rival University of Richmond at 6 p.m. The Rams will look to even up the season series, after the Spiders posted a 7-1 victory back on March 21st.