Final Score: VCU 5, Rhode Island 2
Location: The Diamond (Richmond, Va.)
Records: VCU 14-8, Rhode Island 5-15
The Short Story: League play began with perfection on Friday evening, as the VCU Rams rode the strong pitching performance of Connor Gillispie to a 5-2 victory over the Rhode Island Rams. VCU has now won 10 in a row after dropping to Manhattan on March 4.
- Gillispie would throw six strong innings, scattering four hits, not allowing a walk, and striking out nine.
- Sam Ryan followed up Gillispie's performance with a strong two innings of work, giving up one hit, two runs, and striking out four.
- Mac McCarty collected his NCAA-leading 10th save of the season.
- Brett Willett collected a pair of RBI on a 1-for-3 performance.
- Daane Berezo went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
- Mitchel Lacey and Hogan Brown each had two hits, as Lacey added an RBI and Brown a double.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Gillispie dominated on the mound through the first six innings of play. He didn't allow a base runner until the third inning, and didn't allow a runner past second.
- VCU grabbed the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Willett hit a cue shot off the end of his bat to score Berezo. That would put the score at 1-0.
- VCU added a pair of runs in both the sixth and seventh innings. Lacey singled to right to score a run, followed by a Willett sacrifice fly to score another in the sixth. Two straight bunts in the seventh from Haiden Lamb and Berezo would bring in runs to extend the lead to 5-0.
- Sam Ryan would back up Gillispie's performance with three scoreless innings of his own.
- A clutch pickoff play in the top of the sixth from Josh Simon caught Rhode Island's Austin White off first base. Gillispie would get a ground ball to end the inning on the following pitch to keep the momentum in favor of the Black & Gold.
- Rhode Island would get a pair in the top of the ninth, but McCarty would shut the door to give VCU the victory.
VCU will return to action Saturday, March 24 at The Diamond for Game 2 of the three-game series with Rhode Island. It will be First Responder's Day at the ballpark, with first pitch set for 2 p.m.