Photo by Autumn Walter |CIGAR| The men’s baseball team is ready to play their next home stretch.
The University of Rhode Island baseball team opened up a seven-game home stand with a win Tuesday afternoon over Quinnipiac, rebounding off of a weekend of losses at Virginia Commonwealth University, but fell on Wednesday afternoon to Northeastern.
Late offense was key in the victory, as the Rams put up three runs in the seventh inning to take a 7-5 lead over Quinnipiac, the eventual final score. Kevin Heiss contributed with four key RBI leading the way for Rhode Island. Heiss batted from eighth in the lineup, and his production from the bottom of the order was one of the things that propelled Rhode Island to victory.
“Kevin’s batted fifth, he’s batted first, he’s batted second,” head coach Ralph Cerrato said. “I think getting some depth in our lineup, getting good at bats when we needed it- he was the guy in the right spot at the right time and he came through today.”
Pitching was also a key to success, as the Rams used a plethora of arms, and none of their pitchers issued a walk.
“We call them ‘Free 90’s,’” Cerrato said after the game. “You don’t want to give them extra bases. Especially when you have a cold day, it’s not really a great day to hit. If you can make guys swing the bat, with the stuff our pitchers have we should be okay.”
Starter Jake Walker left the game after three innings pitched and three runs, two of them earned, and was relieved by Tyler Brossius. After Brossius, the Rams went to Cam LaFleur, who threw until the eighth inning and was credited with the victory. After one scoreless from Nick Robinson, Tyler Barss threw a perfect ninth to earn his 29th career save.
The seven runs scored by the Rams was the most they’ve scored so far this season. The rest of the home stretch should be a good measurement as to if the Rams have finally caught stride offensively.
“I still think we can be a lot better than we did today,” Cerrato said. “Hopefully we can take another step forward and have more good at bats.”
The win was refreshing for Rhody, as VCU swept them in the weekend series. One of the losses was a 1-0 loss in 15 innings, which is amazing from a pitching perspective yet tough to swallow from an offensive perspective.
Tyler Wilson threw six shutout innings, and Tyler Barrs followed with three innings of no-hit ball. Nick Robinson was credited with the loss after a wild pitch scored a run in the 15th inning. The other games resulted in a 5-2 loss and a 4-2 loss, and in both the offense failed to get it going when they needed to.
“I’m happy we were able to come back,” Cerrato said. “We’ve been struggling offensively, we had a tough weekend down at Virginia Commonwealth. It showed something today that we were down 5-3 and we were able to put together some runs and come back.”
Rhode Island fell to Northeastern on Wednesday afternoon 15-8 at Bill Beck Field. Rhody’s eight runs was the most scored in a game all season. The Rams are now 2-1 at home.
The Rams host their first conference games this weekend, as the reigning Atlantic 10 Champions from Davidson come to Kingston for a 3-game series. The games are Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m., and Sunday morning at 10:30.