TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: No. 4 VCU vs. No. 3 GEORGE MASON
|Who:||No. 4 VCU (37-19, 15-10) vs. No. 3 George Mason (33-20, 16-9)
|When:||Saturday May 24, 1 p.m.
|Where:||St. Louis | Directions | Tickets
|Ballpark:||Billiken Sports Center (500)
> This year's appearance in the Atlantic 10 Tournament will be the first for the Rams after failing to qualify a season ago. In his second season at the helm of VCU baseball skipper Shawn Stiffer is making his first post-season trip. During the season VCU matched up with four of the six possible opponents. The Black and Gold didn't take on the host team Saint Louis or the Dayton Flyers.
> The Rams have used six different starters this season, as a whole the group has a 21-9 record with a 3.47 ERA. Juniors Heath Dwyer (6-2) and JoJo Howie (6-3) lead the way with six wins apiece. Starters have compiled 219 punchouts to 103 walks. The opposition's starters are 6-22 with a 4.02 ERA against the Rams hurlers.
> As a whole, the Black and Gold have scored 333 runs to lead the Atlantic 10. VCU's team batting average of .295 is the second highest in the league and is 18th highest nationally. VCU ranks as one of the top teams in the country in on-base percentage (.380, 38th), runs per game (6.4, 27th) and runs (333, 33rd). On the year, the Rams have totaled 10 or more runs 12 times this season. VCU hitters, Bill Cullen (53) and Vimael Machin (51), rank first and second for RBI in the Atlantic 10.
> This season the Rams have picked up 10 wins after trailing in the fifth inning or later. VCU has knocked off Furman (2), Rutgers, Rhode Island St. Bonaventure, Temple, UMass, UNCW and Virginia Tech (2) after falling behind that late in the game. Twice the Black an Gold have entered the ninth inning down, only to take the lead and then win the contest in the frame, against UNCW March 9) and against Rutgers (March 16).
> The Rams have rallied from behind to take a lead in 23 contests this season. In the 23 go ahead innings the Rams have put together a combined 81 runs. When broken down it averages to 3.5 runs an inning.
> Against Virginia Tech on March 12, a 21-14 VCU win, nine batters for VCU scored a run and the offense posted six doubles, including three from Joey Cujas alone. Bill Cullen's five RBIs lead the attack that saw four Rams post multiple RBI days. Shortstop Vimael Machin recorded an RBI in four striaght frames in the fifth through eighth innings.
> The Rams have thrived in innings five through eight this season, entering this week VCU is outscoring opponents 183-113. So far, the sixth inning has been the most productive for the Black and Gold, with 55 runs scored.
> Sophomore left fielder James Bunn was honored as Atlantic 10 Player of the Week on Feb. 24 after the Rams swept Furman in Greenville, S.C. Bunn batted .421 that week, with eight hits, one RBI and six runs scored. The Princeton, N.J. native also boasted a .476 on base percentange during the span in February.
> Freshman Matt Davis has had an instant impact for the Rams this spring. In his first weekend as a Ram Davis batted .500 with three doubles and two RBIs. Davis was rewarded for his performance by being named the Atlantic 10 Newcomer of the Week.
> On March 15 against Buffalo Heath Dwyer posted one of the best pitching performances in program history. Dwyer struck out a career-hight 15 Bulls that day, and just allowed two hits in the complete game shutout win. The complete game marked the fifth time the junior has gone the distance for the Rams. For his efforts Dwyer was recognized nationaly as a performer of the week by the NCAA, Louisville Slugger and the NCBWA. The sophomore was also named the Co-Pitcher of the Week by the Atlantic 10.