HARRISONBURG, Va. – The JMU baseball team posted a 13-11 come-from-behind victory over VCU on Friday with five-runs scored in the bottom of the ninth, including a walk off three run home run from Casey Goss, to claim game one of the series.
The Dukes improve to 16-29-2 overall and 10-15 in CAA play, while the Rams drop to 28-22 and 13-15 in the league with the setback.
"It's a disappointing loss," said VCU associate head coach Shawn Stiffler. "You can look at the last inning, but we lost this game in the first third of the ballgame. We just didn't throw many strikes tonight, walking 11 of their batters in a nine inning game. I don't know if I have ever been a part of a college baseball game like that, where a combined 20 hitters were walked on the night. We need to come back prepared and ready to play tomorrow, because the season is on the line once again tomorrow."
VCU would score at least one run in each of the game's first four innings, including two runs in the third, but host JMU would still lead with seven runs scored in the first two innings of the contest.
Trailing 7-5 in the top of the sixth inning, the Rams pushed across three runs to regain the lead. VCU would load up the bases without taking the bat off their shoulders, as JMU walked three-straight batters with one-out in the frame. After the Dukes record a lineout to left field for the second out, sophomore infielder Joey Cujas struck out swinging at a pitch in the dirt, which the JMU catcher was unable to block. Senior catcher Nick Abrahamson would score safely from third to cut the JMU lead to 7-6. Two Rams would come around to score on a single to left center by redshirt junior Taylor Buran.
VCU added to its lead in the top of the eighth inning, pushing across a pair of runs for a 10-7 lead. After Cujas lined a single up the middle, Buran drew a five-pitch walk to put runners on first and second with sophomore designated hitter Chris Ayers coming to the plate. Ayers would drive the first pitch of his at-bat off the wall in center field for a double, which scored Cujas and Buran.
The Dukes would tally their eighth run of the contest in the bottom of the eighth, to bring the score to 10-8 in favor of the Rams.
VCU would record its final run of the contest in the top of the ninth inning, as Abrahamson lined a single up the middle, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Nice and came around to score on a single to center by sophomore outfielder Bill Cullen.
JMU would strike back with five runs in the bottom of the ninth, including three off the bat of Goss' home run to right field.
VCU junior pitcher Blake Hauser suffers the loss, while Ben Garner picked up the victory for the home side.
Ayers and Buran led the way offensively, with three RBI each. VCU freshman pitcher Matt Lees (pictured right) pitched well out of the bullpen, throwing three and a thirds innings, while allowing just one run and fanning three JMU batters.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday, with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.