HARRISONBURG, Va. – After losing an emotional game on Friday night against JMU, the VCU baseball team needed the type of game they got on Saturday night to get back on track.
Behind a complete game pitching performance from senior pitcher Seth Cutler-Voltz and a couple of solid offensive performances, the Rams captured a 9-3 victory over the Dukes on Saturday night at Eagle Field to even the series at one game apiece.
VCU improves to 29-22 on the year, but more important is the team's CAA record, which now stands at 14-15. JMU falls to 16-30-2 overall and 10-16 in league play.
"It was a fabulous performance," said VCU associate head coach Shawn Stiffler. "The guys really responded after getting punched in the gut in last night's game. They did exactly what the coaching staff asked of them, putting that game behind them and coming out ready to perform tonight. It was a great performance from the Rams tonight."
The Rams pulled ahead early, pushing across a lone run in the top of the first inning. Sophomore infielder Joey Cujas slapped a two-out single through the left side, before advancing to second on a single up the middle by redshirt junior outfielder Taylor Buran. Cujas would come around to score on a single up the middle by sophomore designated hitter Chris Ayers.
VCU added two more runs in the top of the second inning, with redshirt junior Brent Mikionis leading off the inning with a hit-by-pitch. Senior catcher Taylor Perkins followed with a double over the center fielder's head, which allowed Mikionis to score from first. Perkins advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by senior outfielder Paul Nice, before scoring on an infield groundout by sophomore outfielder Bill Cullen.
Cujas led off the top of the third inning with a solo home run to left field to extend VCU's lead to 4-0. With two outs in the same inning, freshman infielder Vimael Machin belted a triple to center field. Machin would come around to score on a throwing error on Mikionis' grounder to the JMU first baseman.
Machin gave the Rams a 7-0 lead with a two-run home run in the top of the fifth inning, which was just his second home run of the season.
The Rams would add single runs in the seventh and eighth innings to close out their scoring, before the Dukes manufactured three runs in the bottom of the ninth to bring the score to its final at 9-3.
Cutler-Voltz pitched the eighth complete game of his four year career and first of the 2012 season, with nine strong innings on Saturday. The Richmond, Va., native allowed three runs, 10 hits and fanned six JMU batters. Cutler-Voltz now has 222 strikeouts for his career, which is 10th best in VCU program history.
"Seth came to me in about the third or fourth inning and told me that his pitch count didn't matter tonight," added Stiffler. "Every big game he always seems to step up and really be the guy for us. Seth and (catcher) Taylor Perkins together stayed confident all night in what they were doing in terms of their approach, and it really paid off for us."
Cujas and Machin paced the Rams offensively, each falling one extra-base hit shy of hitting for the cycle. Cujas finished with a single, double and home run, while Machin roped a single, triple and home run. The two each drove in two RBI.
The two teams will meet on Sunday at 2 p.m., to decide the season series between the two schools. A victory for the Rams would give the team 30-wins on the year and a 15-15 record in CAA play.