The old saying in baseball is “Hitting is Contagious.” At least that’s was one of the excuses my dad tried to tell to make me feel better after I gave up six runs in an inning.
That theory as certainly true for the VCU Baseball team this past week who went 4-0 last week and have now won five of six entering a five-game homestand with Liberty, George Mason and VMI coming to the Diamond.
VCU pounded out 37 hits this past weekend up at Northeastern. The Huskies are usually pitching dominant and entered the three-game set against the Rams with a 4.28 team ERA, which ranked fourth in the conference at the time. That’s when the Rams arrived in Beantown and seemingly everyone on the bus got a hit in the three-game set. Even Andrew Phillips, the internet voice of the Black & Gold, may have gotten a hit and you’re talking about a guy who had two hits total in his 13 years of little league baseball. Just don’t ask Phillips to catch a pop-up, that leads to disaster. We actually found highlights of Phillips’ little league career in the video below, he’s at the :05 and :30 mark.
Back to the Diamond Rams, who are led by the sophomore tandem of Joey Cujas and Bill Cullen. After hitting .588 last week, Cujas has pushed his yearly total to .455, which will be close to the top-10 nationally when the NCAA stats report comes out today. Cullen is at .363, while leading the country in triples (7) and ranking in the top-three nationally in doubles (14). This past week, redshirt juniors Taylor Buran and Brent Mikionis got hot and at the perfect time for VCU with the duo combining for 13 hits in 28 at-bats with three longballs and six RBIs.
However, this is what usually happens in baseball, the team has an offensive explosion, but nobody really notices dominant pitching and that’s exactly what the Rams had this past week with a team ERA this past week of just 1.95 to go along with 30 strikeouts and just nine walks. On the year, VCU has 206 strikeouts and just 75 walks (2.75 strikeout-to-walk ratio). Freshman Heath Dwyer has been a huge lift for the Black & Gold with a 3-1 record and 2.86 ERA in 28.1 innings of work.
I believe coming into this year that the Rams had a real shot in a wide-open CAA race and this is the team that I thought could win the thing. It takes time to get in the rhythm, Buran and Mikionis are prime examples of that. They both battled injuries last year and had a tough start to this spring, but turned it on last week and if they stay at that level, VCU will be tough to beat and yet again will be battling for a CAA Championship and another trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Get out to the Diamond and support your Rams!