CODY EPPLEY VISITS VCU

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Former Ram Cody Eppley was on campus yesterday. Mike Voyack managed to catch up with him at the Black and Gold World Series at the Diamond. Eppley just finished his first full season in the Majors with the New York Yankees. The sidearmer made 59 appearances and crafted a 3.33 ERA in 46.0 innings for the Bronx Bombers. Not bad for a 43rd round draft pick.

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CLOSING TIME; HAUSER THRIVING IN LATE GAME ROLE

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Blake Hauser, in his first year as VCU’s closer, is 4-1 with 10 saves and a 2.22 ERA.

A curious text message appeared on the phone of VCU Interim Baseball Coach Shawn Stiffler’s recently. It was from a recruit who had one simple burning question: “Can you turn me into Blake Hauser?”

After two underwhelming seasons in VCU uniform, Hauser is thriving this year after converting from starter to closer for the Rams, catching the attention of fans, scouts and recruits alike.

In 26 appearances, the Chesterfield, Va. native has a 4-1 record, 10 saves and a 2.22 ERA. In 28.1 innings, the hard-throwing righty has struck out 54 – an average of more than 17 per nine innings – and allowed just nine hits. If not for 24 walks, his ERA might be microscopic.

But Hauser didn’t get to this point in his career easily. Drafted in the 25th round in 2009 by the Cleveland Indians out of Manchester High School, Hauser instead chose to play for VCU Coach Paul Keyes and the Rams. Armed with an exploding, 95 mile-and-hour fastball, his arrival was met with much fanfare.

It didn’t work out like it was supposed to.

Hauser struggled with his command and posted a 4-4 record with a gaudy 7.07 ERA in 11 games, including 10 starts, as a freshman. As a sophomore he posted a 3-4 record with a 4.65 ERA in 12 appearances, nine of them starts. It was progress, but not the type of performance he or others had envisioned. Frustration set in.

“Not really towards anybody or anything, but at myself,” Hauser said. “I didn’t really contribute as much as I should have. Not even close. And I felt like I could’ve helped the team out and I really didn’t do much, and it was really frustrating.”

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RAMSANITY

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The VCU Baseball Team recently held its Ramsanity Obstacle Course over at The Diamond. I watch this video and can’t help but think that the 80’s were cinematically one big sham. In every 80’s sports movie, there would always be one sorry portly fellow with an ill-fitting uniform and a sandwich hanging out of his mouth. I watch this and everybody actually looks like they’re in great shape. What gives? Where’s the comic relief? Where’s Chubbs from Teen Wolf, Finch from Wildcats or John Kruk?

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By the way, Assistant Coach Shawn Stiffler is totally right about the light dinner. I love Qdoba and Chipotle, but they can kill a workout faster than Lindsay Lohan can violate probation. It’s like running with a pillowcase of sand in your gullet. Fast = fast. Feast = least. Something like that.

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