Friday’s season-opener resulted in a close loss for the Black and Gold, as the Liberty University Flames edged out a 5-4 victory in Lynchburg.
The Flames took an early lead, plating two runs in the first on a home run, but VCU matched them with two of their own in the top of the second. Sophomore Brett Willett walked and junior Zac Ching was hit by a pitch to open the inning, and freshman Liam Hibbits laced a single into right field to bring home Willett.
After cutting the deficit in half, sophomore Josh Simon laid down a squeeze bunt to the first-base side, scoring Ching and tying the game. Sophomore Connor Gillispie and junior Ben Dum paired up to throw five scoreless innings, limiting the Flames to just one hit.
In the seventh, however, Liberty junior Tre Todd smacked a three-run home run to extend the Flames’ lead to 5-2. Ching struck again in the top half of the eighth, driving home a run to cut the deficit to two. Sophomore Paul Witt doubled to score senior Haiden Lamb in the bottom of the ninth, and VCU threatened right afterward with runners on second and third, but the Rams fell just short of a season-opening win.
The Saturday tilt of VCU’s three-game series against Liberty was postponed to Sunday. The Rams lost both of the Sunday tussles, the first by a final of 14-10. Junior infielder/pitcher Mac McCarty took the loss in the first game after an inning and two-thirds of relief. McCarty allowed three runs — all earned — on three hits. Senior starter Sean Thompson and junior starter Michael Dailey combined to allow eleven runs in six and a third innings of work.
VCU lost the third game in similarly heartbreaking fashion, this time by a final of 4-2. Junior reliever Jack Alkire took the loss after allowing three runs in three innings of work. VCU starter Sam Ryan worked three innings of scoreless ball, but had to settle for the no-decision. Freshman pitcher and outfielder Jack Schroeder had both VCU RBI’s on the day in the seventh inning. Schroeder knocked in a pair on a clutch two-out, two-on single to center after Ching set the table for him by bunting both runners over.
Adam Cheek, Contributing writer