RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia Commonwealth University belted its first three home runs of the season, including a grand slam by freshman Joey Cujas, but it wasn't enough as Princeton used a three-run ninth inning rally to defeat VCU, 16-14, Sunday evening at The Diamond.

Nine different Rams collected a hit with seven players tallying two apiece.  Cujas registered his first career home run, while juniors Taylor Perkins and Taylor Buran each contributed round trippers.

After Princeton scored six runs in the top of the second, VCU rallied with nine runs in the bottom of the inning, including home runs by Cujas (pictured, right) and Perkins.  The Rams and Tigers combined for a 15-run frame that saw VCU erase a five-run deficit.  The inning also produced 11 walks and one hit-by-pitch, two home runs, and 26 batters came to the plate.

Cujas went 2-for-6 with a double, home run and four RBI, while Perkins finished 2-for-5 with three RBI, three runs and a homer.  John Mishu paced Princeton with a 4-for-4, two RBI outing.  Sam Mulroy also went yard for the Tigers.

Senior reliever Jonathan Watson took the loss for VCU after allowing three runs in 1.2 innings of work.  Matt Grabowski improved to 1-0 with 2.2 scoreless innings for Princeton.

VCU (5-9) took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by senior John Lenherr.  Cujas doubled into right center with two outs, senior Michael Cheatham drew a walk and the pair moved into scoring position after a wild pitch from Princeton starter Mike Fagan.  Lenherr then singled through the left side and Cujas scored to put the Rams on top early.

 The lead wouldn't last long though as Princeton (2-3) answered with six runs in the top of the second.  Rams starter Blake Hauser walked the bases loaded and Alec Keller tied it with an RBI groundout.  Nathan Baird then drove in a pair with a double and later scored on a fielding error by Cujas.  Mike Ford eventually made it 6-1with a line drive into deep center.

 VCU continued the scoring spree and mounted a rally with a nine-run outburst in the bottom of the frame.  Fagan walked the first five batters he faced and the Rams got a pair of runs back.  Cujas then hit his first career home run with a grand slam into left and VCU regained the lead, 7-6.  Cheatham and Lenherr followed with back-to-back walks and Perkins lifted a strike over the left field wall, which gave the Rams a 10-6 advantage.

A three-run homer by Mulroy pulled Princeton within 10-9 in the top of the fourth and Mishu tied it with an RBI triple in the fifth.

VCU went on to regain the lead with four-run sixth inning.  Buran put the Rams back in front with a solo home run into left and sophomore Nick Kime and junior Paul Nice each drove in runs with doubles and VCU pulled ahead 14-10.

Princeton battled back and got within a run in its next trip to the plate.  A groundout by Baird, an RBI single from Matt Bowman and double by Mishu cut the VCU lead to 14-13.

The Rams had a chance to add to their lead in the seventh but stranded a pair of runners in scoring position.  Princeton then went on to plate three runs in the top of the ninth to secure the win.  Mulroy was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Andrew Whitener drove in a pair with an RBI double and the Tigers went ahead 16-14.

Lenherr drew a two-out walk and Buran singled up the middle in the bottom of the ninth but Grabowski was able to get Perkins to ground out to end the game.

VCU concludes the Terry Sisisky Classic on Monday with a 2 p.m. meeting against Princeton at The Diamond.

February 16, 2011 2011 BASEBALL PREVIEW: INFIELD