WILMINGTON, N.C. – VCU scored runs in seven of the first eight innings and used a 21-hit attack to defeat UNC Wilmington 15-6 Friday evening in the second game of a three-game Colonial Athletic Association series at Brooks Field.
VCU, which evens the series at a game apiece, snaps a three-game losing skid and improves to 22-31 overall with a 12-17 mark in CAA play. UNC Wilmington, which clinched a spot in next week's four-team CAA Tournament despite the loss, slips to 29-26, 17-12.
VCU's leadoff batter reached in seven of the first eight innings, while the Rams pounded out 21 hits, their second-highest total all year.
Freshman Bill Cullen went 3-for-4 with a career-high six RBI, including a pair of doubles and a home run. The Colonial Heights, Va., native extended his career-long hitting streak to 13 games, the longest by any Ram this season. Senior Michael Cheatham and junior Taylor Perkins collected four hits apiece, freshman Joey Cujas added three, while seniors Michael Caddell and Ryan Caldwell, and freshman Chris Ayers each posted two.
VCU starter Kyle Haynes (6-7) picked up the win, allowing three runs (none earned) on eight hits with three strikeouts in six innings. UNC Wilmington's Travis Bradley falls to 2-5 after surrendering five runs in 1 2/3 frames. Rams reliever Ryan Morrison picked his first career save after tossing the final three innings.
Cullen drew a four-pitch leadoff walk and scored on a base hit by Cujas to give VCU a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. The Rams then tacked on four more runs in the second to pull ahead 5-0. Perkins and Ayers collected back-to-back singles to start the frame. Caddell then laid down a sacrifice bunt in front of the plate but Seahawks catcher David Shambly's throw was wild and Perkins scored from second. A RBI groundout by Caldwell, a double from Cullen and a base hit by Cujas extended VCU's lead.
The Black & Gold didn't stop there as senior John Lenherr reached on a fielding error by shortstop Jake Koenig to start the third and Perkins followed with a single into center to push the Rams lead to 6-0.
VCU broke the game open in the fifth with three more runs on four hits. After Cheatham and Perkins both singled, Ayers drove in one with a base hit through the right side and Caddell collected a pair of RBI with a ball just out of the reach of Hunter Ridge at first base to make it 9-0.
A two-out fielding error by Cujas extended the fifth inning for UNC Wilmington as the Seahawks went on to plate three runs to pull within 9-3. Koenig singled into right to start the frame but after two quick outs, Cujas couldn't come up with a ball off the bat of Michael Bass. Matt Campbell followed with a RBI single up the middle and Andrew Cain drove in a pair with the bases loaded to make it a six-run game.
However, VCU got a run back and jumped ahead 10-3 in the sixth. Cullen drew a leadoff walk for the second time in the game and scored on a base hit by Cheatham with one away.
A three-run homer by Cullen gave the Rams a 10-run advantage in the seventh but Ridge pulled UNC Wilmington within 13-4 with a one-out double in the bottom of the inning.
Cullen drove in his sixth RBI of the night with a two-out, two-run double in the eighth. UNC Wilmington added two runs on four hits in the bottom of the ninth to make it 15-6.
The Rams and Seahawks conclude the three-game series Saturday at 2 p.m. It will mark VCU's final game of the season.