RICHMOND, Va. – Visiting Norfolk State out-hit VCU 7-4, thanks in part to three hits from second baseman Roger Hall, but the Rams manufactured enough offense and got key pitching from their bullpen in a 4-2 win over the Spartans on Tuesday night at The Diamond.
Hall had a double among his three hits and also knocked in two runs for NSU (13-16).
VCU (21-12) scored two runs without benefit of a hit in the bottom of the first. Spartan starter Matt Boone issued three straight one-out walks and hit Brett Hileman with a pitch with the bases loaded. Cody Acker followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Rams a 2-0 lead.
The score remained that way through the fifth inning. VCU starter Jonathan Ebersole pitched five scoreless innings and NSU reliever Alex Mauricio kept the Spartans in it until NSU tied the game in the top of the sixth. Denathan Dukes reached on a one-out Ram error and Angel Rosario walked. With two outs, Hall scored both runners with a single to right field, tying the score at 2-2.
But the Rams took the lead without a ball leaving the infield in the bottom of the sixth. Acker reached on an infield single and Mauricio hit James Bunn with a pitch. Two outs later, Mauricio was called for a balk, allowing Acker to score from third base.
The Rams stretched their lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the eighth, again without a hit. A walk, an error and a double play ball helped VCU double its lead.
Dukes singled to lead off the ninth inning, but Ram closer Sam Donko struck out the next three Spartans for his 12th save of the season.
Tanner Winters (1-0) got the win for VCU, allowing one hit and two unearned runs in his one inning of relief work.
Mauricio (1-1) took the hard-luck loss for the Spartans. He pitched a career-high 4.1 innings out of the bullpen, allowing just three hits and one run. He struck out two and did not walk a batter. Chase Anderson did not allow a hit and gave up just one unearned run in two innings of relief work, following Mauricio.
In addition to Hall’s 3-for-4 day, Dukes went 2-for-4 with a run scored for the Spartans.
Acker and Logan Farrar had two hits each, accounting for all four of VCU’s hits.
The Spartans return home for their next 12 games, beginning with a three-game MEAC series with UMES this Saturday and Sunday at Marty L. Miller Field.
Originally posted on NSUSpartans.com.