CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – VCU (28-14) won its 12th-straight game in dramatic fashion, scoring four runs in the top of the ninth inning in a 7-5 come-from-behind win over Virginia (22-21) on Tuesday (May 4) at Disharoon Park. The Rams took both games of a home-and-home series against the Cavaliers this season.
VCU scored seven unanswered runs beginning in the seventh inning. A two-run homer by Connor Hujsak got the Rams on the board and snapped the Virginia bullpen’s 20.1 scoreless innings streak. Two of the three runs in the seventh were unearned.
In the ninth, VCU sent nine batters to the plate and drew three walks (one intentional) and a hit by pitch in what proved to be the game-winning rally. After pulling within a run on a bases loaded walk, the Rams took their first lead of the game on a two-out, three-RBI double by Liam Hibbits.
“Certainly, a very, very difficult loss,” head coach Brian O’Connor said. “I thought Zach Messinger did a great job in the first half of the game, gave us a great quality start. We were not as opportunistic when we had chances as we need to be when you’re playing at home and have chances to put somebody away.”
The Cavaliers built a 5-0 lead over the first six innings, scoring four of its runs on two-out hits. Junior Nic Kent (Charlottesville, Va.) was credited with two of the four two-out RBI hits, one in the first and another in the third. Kent went 3-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI.
Freshman Kyle Teel (Mahwah, N.J.) drove in the game’s first run with an RBI single to center that scored Max Cotier (New Milford, Conn.). Senior Alex Tappen (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.) capped a two-run rally in the third inning with a two-out double to left and put Virginia in front 4-0.
The lead was plentiful for starting pitcher Zach Messinger (Chandler, Ind.) who struck out five in five scoreless innings. The right-hander did not allow a runner to reach second base in his final four frames. In two games against VCU this season, Messinger struck out 15 batters and did not issue a walk in a combined 9.1 innings.
Junior Blake Bales (Schoolcraft, Mich.) allowed an inherited runner to score on a groundout after coming on in relief with a runner on second and no one out in the seventh. The righty went on to strike out five of the six batters he faced over two innings of work. Bales owns a 0.55 ERA on the season and has struck out 45 batters in 33 innings pitched.
Zack Gelof (Rehoboth Beach, Del.) went 2-for-5 from the leadoff spot and singled in the ninth to bring the tying run to the plate. Freshman Jake Gelof (Rehoboth Beach, Del.) put forth his second multi-hit effort in the last four games and finished 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
The Cavaliers will break for final exams and return to action on May 14 to begin a three-game series at home against Wake Forest.
- The 12-straight wins for VCU is the second-longest active win streak in the country.
- The last five meetings between the Cavaliers and Rams have been decided by one or two runs.
- The game, originally scheduled for 6 p.m. was delayed 45 minutes due to weather.
- Senior Brendan Rivoli (Douglassville, Pa.) went 1-for-4 with a run scored and has reached base safely in nine-straight games.
- Virginia is 46-24 all-time against VCU and 21-5 under O’Connor.