Anybody who had any question about the future of the Virginia Commonwealth University baseball program had answers revealed to them on Saturday afternoon at The Diamond. Freshmen Seth Cutler-Voltz and Brent Mikionis played huge roles in a exciting 7-6 Rams victory over the Monarchs of Old Dominion in Colonial Athletic Association action. “It’s nice to get back […]
Anybody who had any question about the future of the Virginia Commonwealth University baseball program had answers revealed to them on Saturday afternoon at The Diamond.
Freshmen Seth Cutler-Voltz and Brent Mikionis played huge roles in a exciting 7-6 Rams victory over the Monarchs of Old Dominion in Colonial Athletic Association action.
“It’s nice to get back in the win column,” Head Coach Paul Keyes said. “I’m pleased with the way our young guys came in and gave us some real life off the bench, but we’ve still got a ways to go. We have to continue to practice hard and continue to improve.”
It was a rough start for the Black & Gold when Max Most sent a line drive home run over the right field wall on the fifth pitch of the game from junior Robbie Andrews. A VCU miscue would plate another Monarch run later in the inning as ODU jumped out to a 2-0 advantage.
The Monarch lead would increase to 4-0 when Jake McAloose collected an RBI groundout and Brett Harris delivered a two-out RBI single to right field in the top of the third.
Junior Doug Otto sparked the VCU offense in the bottom of the fourth with a leadoff single and moved to second on a balk. Two groundouts later, Otto came around to score and cut into the ODU lead at 4-1.
The tandem of Most and Gerard Hall proved to be the Rams’ nemesis once again in the top of the fifth when Most singled and advanced to second on an errant pickoff attempt. Hall followed with an RBI single through the right side and yet another VCU miscue would allow Hall to touch home later in the inning to push the ODU advantage to 6-1.
Insert the youth movement.
Junior Andrew Dimino smoked a single to start the home half of the sixth and came around to score after Chris Buss misplayed a ground ball by M.L. Morgan. Otto kept the inning going with a single of his own and sophomore Michael Cheatham brought the Rams within three with an RBI single into centerfield.
Freshman Josh Alford came off the bench with a clutch RBI double down the third base line and senior Carlos Rodriguez capped off the four-run frame with a sacrifice fly to right to bring the Black & Gold within one at 6-5.
Cutler-Voltz came out of the bullpen in the top of the fifth and cruised into the eighth, allowing just three base runners to reach over that span.
That set the stage for Mikionis, who proceeded to launch a 3-2 pitch deep over the left field wall for his first collegiate home run and tied the game at 6-6. Alford kept the rally going with a single into right field and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Rodriguez.
ODU head coach Jerry Meyers brought out the southpaw Kyle Hald to face junior Matt Leskiw but Keyes countered with freshman Taylor Perkins.
A wild pitch moved Alford to third and Perkins did what Keyes asked him to with a sacrifice fly into right field to score Alford and give the Rams a 7-6 lead.
“We felt like Taylor was our best match-up in that situation,” Keyes said. “Last week at Georgia State, they brought [Robinson] Polanco out of the pen, who’s a tough lefty and we struggled. We figured Taylor had the ability to drive the ball and give us the lead, which he did.”
Like it’s been all year, the victory did not come easy when Hall drew a leadoff walk, McAloose reached on a throwing error and Josh Wright dropped down a bunt single to load the bases with no outs.
Mikionis made a fantastic play on a roller down the third base line for a fielder’s choice for the first out and redshirt sophomore Aaron Morgan got Cameron Scott swinging for the second out. Buss would put a swing on a 2-1 pitch from Morgan, but it was right at Dimino in center for the third out and a 7-6 VCU win.
Morgan (4-2) picked up the victory in relief, tossing 1.1 scoreless innings and allowing just one hit. Cutler-Voltz was stellar in his 3.2 innings of work, allowing just two hits while striking out one ODU hitter.
“I thought Seth was really the key for us,” Keyes said. “He came out and gave us four strong innings, which allowed our younger guys to get our offense going a little bit. Aaron did what he typically does, give us a little bit of a scare, but he normally always gets the job done.”
Reliever Chris Boggs (5-1) was dealt his first loss after giving up one run in 0.1 innings of work.
Four of VCU’s nine hits on the day came off the bench with Alford going 2-for-2 with a run scored and an RBI. Otto led the offensive attack, going 3-for-3 with two runs scored on the afternoon.
With four games left on the CAA slate, the Rams still have a chance at postseason play, but would need several situations to on fold over the next two weeks for that to happen:
George Mason would have to sweep James Madison, either Towson or Northeastern has to sweep the series against each other and VCU would have to sweep Delaware next week.
For the time being, the Rams will have to focus on the series finale against Old Dominion which is slated for 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.