RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - VCU set a state baseball attendance record, and Shaka Smart was there to throw out the first pitch, but the Rams could not find enough magic to upset top-ranked UVA. The Wahoos rolled over the Rams 14-3 Tuesday night at The Diamond.
Virginia Commonwealth University set a state baseball attendance record with 5,421 fans. VCU (17-25) faced the NCAA's top-ranked team for the second consecutive season and fourth time in program history.
Smart threw out the first pitch, a precursor to his duties this weekend at Wrigley Field. Smart will be singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at the ball park that he went to games at with his grandfather as a kid. Smart was the only head coach for VCU on the field - Rams head baseball coach Paul Keyes was suspended for the game for bumping an umpire against Delaware Saturday.
Six different Rams recorded a hit, while Jared King paced Virginia's 17-hit attack finishing 3 for 4 with four runs and two RBI.
Virginia starter Cody Winiarski (6-2) picked up the win after allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits in five innings. VCU southpaw Michael Graham suffered his first loss of the season.
The Rams had runners on the corners with one out in the top of the first but couldn't take an early advantage. Virginia (43-5) went on to plate three runs in the second, four in the third, four in the fourth and three more in the sixth to stake a 14-2 lead.
VCU pulled within 7-2 with a pair of runs in the third but it was as close as the Rams would get the rest of the night. Junior Paul Nice singled and senior John Lenherr was hit by a pitch to put two on with one out. Two batters later, sophomore Nick Kime drove in a run with a single into left and Lenherr eventually came home after Virginia committed its second error of the night.
Freshman Chris Ayers drilled a pinch-hit double off the left center field wall, classmate Landon Prentiss reached on a fielding error and senior Ryan Caldwell singled to load the bases for VCU in the seventh. Redshirt-freshman Robert Malan then drew a bases loaded walk to make it 14-3.
The heart of the Cavaliers' order had a big night, going 6-for-11 with nine runs scored and five RBI. Jared King went 3-for-4 with four runs scored and a pair of RBI out of the six-hole, while Kenny Swab was 2-for-3 with three runs scored. Cleanup hitter Steven Proscia homered, drove in a pair and scored twice. Goochland High graduate John Hicks had a homer and an RBI double, while Mills Godwin product Tyler Biddix also had two RBI. The Cavaliers finished with 17 hits, one shy of a season high.
Virginia, which became the first 40-win team in the nation, has just one non-conference loss all season – a 4-3 setback against East Carolina on Feb. 27. The Cavaliers, who entered the game with the NCAA's second-best fielding percentage, committed a season-high three errors.
VCU struck out just four times against a pitching staff that ranks second in the nation with 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings.