With the end of the regular season just three weeks from tomorrow, the URI baseball team has some work to do if they’re going to improve on their current spot in the standings. Rhode Island currently sits in 11th place, just one game ahead of last place St. Bonaventure. It’s getting to be crunch time, but Rhody will have a chance to claw their way up the standings beginning this afternoon as they welcome 3rd place VCU to The Beck.
2013 Record: 28-26 (12-12 in the Atlantic 10)
Key Losses: IF Jordan Weymouth, OF Taylor Buran, P Ryan Farrar
Key Returners: IF Vimael Machin, OF Bill Cullen, P Heath Dwyer
Virginia Commonwealth was a pretty pedestrian team a season ago, but they’ve changed all that this year. The (other) Rams are currently 28-10 on the year, including a 9-4 mark in conference play. However, they’re coming off a 5-4, 10-inning loss this week to in-state rivals Virginia, which was their fourth extra innings game of the season.
VCU will likely send lefty ace Heath Dwyer to the mound in game one this afternoon. The junior is coming off his first loss of the season against La Salle last week, as he currently sits at 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA on the year. Fellow junior Matt Blanchard will be the expected starter in game two of the series. The righty has been spectacular so far this year, going 4-0 with an impressive 2.12 ERA. JoJo Howie (can’t make this stuff up) should get the ball in Sunday’s finale. The lefty, also a junior, is 4-2 with a 3.25 ERA on the season.
The Virginia Commonwealth offense is led by, you guess it, a junior. Infielder Vimael Machin carries a .325 average and a team-leading three home runs into this afternoon’s game. And he’s not the only offensive star. Outfielder James Bunn, who gets our vote for best non-junior on VCU, has a .344 average to go along with eight doubles. The sophomore is also tied for the team lead in stolen bases, nabbing seven of them in nine tries.
Things are just about to get underway in Kingston, with today’s first pitch slated for 3:00 p.m. Saturday’s game begins at 1:00 p.m., with Sunday’s finale coming at noon. As a reminder, all games can be heard on WRIU 90.3 FM – click here for a live stream.