URI takes 2 of 3 from VCU in battle of Rams

Photo provided by the University of Rhode Island

KINGSTON, R.I. (WPRI) – The University of Rhode Island wins the battle of the Rams as they took 2 of 3 games from Virginia Commonwealth.

Game 1:

Aggressive from the start, Rhode Island took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Martin Figueroa doubled to right center and came around to score on a single to center by Jordan Powell.

Mike Corin made it 2-0 in the bottom of the second, launching a ball over the left field wall against 25mph winds blowing in toward the plate. A two-run single by Ryan Olmo then made it 4-0 Rhody the following inning, as Figueroa and Chris Hess both scored on the base hit up the middle.

VCU got its lone run of the game in the top of the fifth, on two-out solo shot by Walker Haymaker. However the Rams got the run back in the bottom of the frame as Hess led off with a single and later scored on a passed ball.

The two teams would combine for just four hits the rest of the way, giving Rhody the series opener by a score of 5-1.

Game 2:

Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the third, Martin Figueroa crushed his third home run of the season – a three-run shot to left field – to give Rhode Island its first lead of the game at 4-3.

The Rams tacked on another run in both the fourth and the fifth innings to stretch it to 6-3.

Derek Gardella scored first, leading off the fourth with a double to centerfield before advancing to third on an infield single by Mike Foley and scoring on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice ball by Chris Hess.

In the fifth, Jordan Powell laced a leadoff double into left center, moved to third on a sac-bunt by Ryan Olmo and crossed the plate on an RBI groundout by Chase Livingston to put Rhody up by three.

URI capped off the scoring in the bottom of the seventh, when Figueroa rushed in on a bunt by Ryan Olmo, executing the suicide squeeze perfectly for the 7-3 advantage.

Meanwhile, Steve Moyers – who had allowed six hits in the first two innings – settled in and and did not give up a hit over the next six frames, including retiring the last 13 batters he faced.

Andrew Veiga took the hill in the top of the ninth and – after stabbing a sharp liner back up the middle and firing over to first for a double play – got a 6-3 groundout to seal the victory.

Game 3:

VCU) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the second, scoring on an RBI single and a sacrifice bunt for the early advantage.

Meanwhile, Rhode Island stranded four runners over the first four innings, including leaving Jordan Powell on third in the bottom of the fourth.

The Rams finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth when Chris Hess singled to right with two away, advanced to third on a base hit by Martin Figueroa and crossed the plate on an RBI single by Jordan Powell.

VCU countered in the top of the sixth, scoring on a sacrifice fly, but a solo shot by Chase Livingston made it a one-run game once again in the bottom of the frame.

VCU was in position to stretch its lead with two runners on in the top of the eighth, but Tyler Barss came in and got back-to-back groundouts to end the threat.

Rhody would then even the score at 3-3 during a wild bottom of the eighth.

Livingston got things started with a leadoff single up the middle before Derek Gardella’s sacrifice bunt was mishandled by VCU third baseball Zach Ching.

With Jesse Lee pinch-running for Gardella, both Livingston and Lee moved up a base on a sac-bunt by Mike Corin.

Laurence Hill then tapped a slow grounder to third base, where Ching appeared to have Livingston frozen on the base path headed home.

Livingston then retreated back to third base, forcing Lee – who had already made his way to third – to hustle back to second.

With the confusion taking place on the left side of the infield, Hill easily made it to first unchallenged.

Clearly rattled, VCU’s Sam Donko – who entered the weekend with the A-10’s best WHIP and the nation’s most saves – threw four straight balls to Mike Foley to walk in the tying run.

The Rams were unable to pull ahead however, as a sharp grounder by Hess allowed VCU to turn a 4-6-3 double play and end the inning with the score knotted at 3-3.

The visiting Rams looked to have something going in the top of the ninth, after Walker Haymaker singled through the right side with one away, however pinch runner Nick Atkinson was quickly thrown out by Livingston on the steal attempt.

Leadoff hitter Logar Farrarr – who was held to a 1-for-11 showing on the weekend – then grounded out to give Rhody a chance to win it in the bottom of the ninth.

There, walks to both Firguroa and Ryan Olmo put two runners on, but VCU’s James Bunn made what was likely a game-saving play on a diving catch that ended the inning and robbed Jesse Lee of what would have been at least a base hit.

VCU carried the momentum into the top of the 10th, loading the bases on a trio singles, before a controversial hit-by-pitch call sent across the game-winning run with two outs on the scoreboard. Ching followed with his first hit of the day – a three-run triple to the right field warning track – for some breathing room.

Rhody then went down in order in the bottom of the inning, narrowly missing the series sweep of the defending Atlantic 10 champs.

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