Virginia Downs VCU 15-4 in NCAA Regional Opener
CHARLOTTESVILLE – In the opening game of the Charlottesville Regional, Virginia defeated VCU 15-4 on Friday at Davenport Field. The Cavaliers, the No. 5 national seed, totaled 15 runs on 16 hits as they opened regional play with a win for the fourth time in the past five years.
Virginia will meet Ole Miss at 6 p.m. Saturday. VCU will play St. John’s at 1 p.m. Saturday in an elimination game.
John Hicks led Virginia’s offensive attack by going 4-for-5 with four runs scored and four RBIs. Tyler Cannon went 3-for-4 with three RBIs while Dan Grovatt also drove in three runs.
Tyler Wilson, who struck out five in three innings of relief picked up the win, while starter Seth Cutler-Voltz took the loss for the Rams. Wilson improves to 8-3 on the season, as Cutler-Voltz falls to 8-4.
The Cavaliers (48-11) opened the scoring with three runs in the bottom of the second. With one out, Hicks sent a ball to the warning track that hit off the glove of the right fielder for a two-base error. Cannon followed with an RBI double to the right-centerfield gap to drive in the opening run of the game. Franco Valdes’ single to shallow centerfield scored Cannon to give Virginia a 2-0 lead. Later in the inning, Phil Gosselin’s two-out double to the left-centerfield gap drove in Valdes for a 3-0 Cavalier advantage.
In the top of the fourth, VCU (34-25-1) got a run back to make the score 3-1. Brent Mikionis led off the inning with a walk. After John Lenherr’s bunt single, Doug Otto walked to load the bases with no outs. Paul Nice’s sacrifice fly to left field drove in Mikionis for the Rams’ first run of the game. But the rally came to an end when Winiarski forced Taylor Perkins to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Virginia answered with four runs in the bottom of the fourth. Hicks led off the inning with a single and stole second. He scored on Cannon’s RBI single to right. After Cannon stole second, Valdes struck out, but reached first on a wild pitch that also allowed Cannon to move to third. John Barr’s RBI single to left scored Cannon to make the score 5-1. Later, Valdes and Barr scored on Grovatt’s two-out single to left, giving Virginia a 7-1 advantage.
In the top of the fifth, VCU loaded the bases with no outs for the second consecutive inning. Gregory Fujii walked to open in the frame, followed by singles by Matt Leskiw and Richard Gonzalez. Joe Van Meter’s single to right scored Fujii and Liskiw to cut the Virginia lead to 7-3 and chasing Winiarski from the game. After Wilson came in to pitch for the Cavaliers, Mikionis hit a ball that got past Hicks at first and allowed Gonzalez to score. The three runs were all the Rams could get in the inning as a strikeout and another inning-ending double play kept the score at 7-4.
Jarrett Parker and Hicks got two of those runs back for Virginia in the bottom of the fifth with back-to-back home runs to lead off the inning, making the score 9-4.
The Cavaliers added three more runs in the bottom of the sixth. Gosselin led off with a walk and stole second. He moved to third on Keith Werman’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Grovatt’s sacrifice fly. With two outs, Steven Proscia doubled and Parker walked. They both scored on Hicks’ double down the right field line, making the score 12-4.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Cavaliers tacked on three more runs. Proscia was hit by a pitch to open in the inning, followed by a single by Parker. They scored on back-to-back RBI singles by Hicks and Cannon. Hicks later scored on an RBI groundout by Reed Gragnani.
The 15 runs are the second-most by the Cavaliers in the NCAA Tournament. Virginia’s NCAA record of 18 runs was set in the school’s very first NCAA Tournament game, an 18-2 win over Richmond in 1972.