RICHMOND, Va. – Host Virginia Commonwealth snapped a 2-2 tie by scoring a pair of runs in the seventh inning to pull away from Norfolk State, 5-2, in a non-conference mid-week baseball contest on Wednesday afternoon at The Diamond.
The loss was the ninth in a row for the Spartans (3-9), while the Rams improve to 7-6 with their second win over NSU in a week’s time.
Alex Gransback hit the go-ahead RBI infield single in the seventh-inning rally, and Paul Witt added another RBI single two batters later for the Rams. Gransback tacked on another run-scoring single in the eighth to provide VCU with some insurance.
VCU started the afternoon by scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the first off NSU right hander Brian Beard, who was making his first career start on the mound. Logan Farrar, VCU’s first batter of the game, walked and scored when NSU misplayed Gransback’s double. Witt also had an RBI single in the frame to plate Gransback and give the Rams a 2-0 edge.
The Spartans tied the game at 2-all in the fourth inning. Beard, NSU’s three-hole hitter, led off the frame with a single and scored on Roger Hall‘s triple to center field. Two batters later, Ismael Herrera hit a sacrifice fly to score Hall and knot the score.
The game remained tied until the home half of the seventh inning. Steve Carpenter drew a walk from NSU reliever Quenten Thomas to start the frame, then advanced to third on Thomas’ errant pickoff throw. Gransback’s infield hit off Spartan reliever Tyler Humphrey put the Rams in front. Gransback then stole second and scored on Witt’s single.
Thomas (0-1) was the lard-luck loser for the Spartans. In his longest career outing, he did not allow a hit in 2.1 innings of work, but did yield one run thanks in part to four walks. He struck out one. Beard also had his longest collegiate outing, giving up three hits and two runs (one earned) with a career-best four strikeouts in four innings pitched, taking a no-decision.
Ryan Fox earned the win for VCU with 1.1 scoreless innings of relief. Sam Donko picked up the save after pitching the eighth and ninth innings without allowing a hit.
The Spartans play their final non-conference weekend series this Saturday and Sunday at Towson. The teams play a single game on Saturday and a doubleheader on Sunday.
Originally published at nsuspartans.com