April 24, 2009
THOMAS SHARP ONCE AGAIN AS RAMS TOP NORTHEASTERN, 7-2
Southpaw tosses second career complete game
BROOKLINE, Mass. – It was an epic display of vintage Virginia Commonwealth University baseball with a shutdown performance on the mound, timely hitting and solid defense in the Rams’ 7-2 road win over Northeastern on Friday afternoon.
Senior southpaw Ian Thomas (Virginia Beach, Va.) tossed the first complete game of the season for the Black & Gold the crucial victory in Colonial Athletic Association action.
“It was really exactly what we’ve been trying to do all year,” Head Coach Paul Keyes said. “Solid pitching, solid hitting and solid defense. That’s going to win you a lot of games.”
The win improves VCU’s record to 19-15 overall and 7-6 in the conference, while the Huskies drop to 20-15 on the year and 6-7 in the CAA.
Northeastern would get on the board first when Frank Pesanello laced the first pitch he saw over the left field wall to grab a 1-0 lead.
Clutch hitting by junior Andrew Dimino (Greenwood, Ind.) tied the score a half inning later when he roped an RBI single through the left side of the infield to plate classmate Matt Leskiw (Plains, Pa.).
Thomas and Northeastern lefty Ryan Quigley locked into a pitcher’s duel, allowing just five hits combined over the first five frames as the score remained 1-1.
Freshman Josh Alford (Midlothian, Va.) got the Rams going in the sixth with a leadoff single up the middle and moved to second on an errant pickoff attempt by Quigley. After a groundout moved him to third, redshirt sophomore Joe Van Meter (Oyster Bay, N.Y.) smoked a single into right field to plate Alford and claim a 2-1 advantage for the Black & Gold.
VCU would string together a two-out rally in the seventh when Leskiw was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a single by classmate Richard Gonzalez (Caguas, Puerto Rico). Dimino sent a groundball to second that was mishandled, allowing Leskiw to score and Gonzalez to reach third, while the Rams’ lead was extended to 3-1.
A walk to Alford loaded the bases and junior Doug Otto (Jefferson City, Mo.) followed with a pivotal two-RBI single through the left side of the infield to push VCU’s lead to 5-1.
“That was a huge at-bat by Doug,” Keyes commented. “He’s one of the only two guys on the team to start every game and I thought he’s showed his toughness by battling through some nagging injuries and it showed once again in that at-bat.”
Another Northeastern fielding miscue led to two more Rams runs, plating Leskiw and pinch runner Ryan Caldwell (Charlottesville, Va.), and giving Thomas plenty of cushion at 7-1.
The Huskies would scratch out an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth, but that would be it as Thomas scattered eight hits and used three crucial double plays to end Northeastern scoring threats.
On the day, Thomas allowed just one earned run, while striking out five to improve to 4-2 on the year. Quigley took the loss after giving up three runs in 6.2 innings of work.
Eight different Rams recorded hits on the afternoon with Leskiw plating three runs and Otto pick up two RBIs.
“It wasn’t our biggest offensive output, but I thought nearly every hit we had was timely,” Keyes said. “We had a couple big leadoff hits after innings where they threatened and we had clutch RBIs from Dimino and Doug.”
The two teams will square off in game two of the series on Saturday afternoon at Friedman Diamond. First pitch is slated for 2 p.m.