GREENVILLE, N.C. - Bill Cullen collected four hits, drove in four and scored five runs, while Heath Dwyer tossed 6 1/3 efficient innings of relief as Virginia Commonwealth (11-6) rolled past No. 25 East Carolina (11-4) in midweek action 18-11 at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium.
With the scored tied at six going to the top of the sixth, VCU plated six runs on five hits and one ECU error to take a commanding 12-6 lead and never looked back. After Paul Nice led off the inning with a walk, Cullen hit a double into left center. Jordan Weymouth took a pitch in the back to load the bases for Joey Cujas, who laced a single through the left side plating both Nice and Cullen. Taylor Perkins followed with a double down the left field line scoring Weymouth. Chris Ayers lifted a single into right field, which scored Cujas and Perkins. Ayers would eventually make his way to third, before scoring on a throwing error by John Wooten following a lineout.
Dwyer (2-0) picked up the win allowing three runs (all earned) on six hits with two strikeouts. Starter Seth Culter-Voltz was touched for five runs (four earned) on six hits in one inning of work. Josh Alford and Michael Graham gave up a combined three runs (all earned) on four hits over the final 1 2/3 frames.
DeShorn Lake (0-1) suffered his first collegiate loss giving up three runs (all earned) on one hit with a walk and didn't record an out in his third relief appearance of the season. ECU starter Jake Harris, who made his first appearance for the purple and gold since Apr. 8, 2011, gave up five runs (all earned) on five hits with three walks and a pair of strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings. Following Harris' early departure, which was predetermined, the Pirates used nine relievers to record the final 23 outs of the contest.
VCU took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Ayers roped a single up the middle scoring Cullen from second. Cullen recorded the first of his four extra base hits on the night to start the first with his double to left field.
The Pirates responded in the bottom of the first plating five runs to take a 5-1 lead. Jack Reinheimer singled through the left side and took second on Bryan Bass' sac bunt to third. Corey Thompson followed with an RBI single up the middle and Wooten put runners on the corner before taking second on a wild pitch that scored Thompson for the second run. Two batters later Zach Wright cranked his first home run of the season (31st career) when he sent a towering shot to right center giving ECU a 4-1 lead. The Pirates would plate its final run of the frame on a fielding error by the Rams centerfielder.
In the top half of the second, VCU scored four runs and knotted the score a five-all. Vimael Machin started thing with a one-out double to right center, Landon Prentiss followed with a walk before Nice was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Cullen, who hit a deep fly ball over Philip Clark's head in center, clearing the bases on his sixth triple of the season. Cullen would later score on a single up the middle by Weyworth.
ECU regained the lead in the third when Wooten scored on Wright's groundout to second putting the score a 6-5. But the see-saw battle continued in the fourth when VCU's Cullen scored again this time on Cujas grounder to second base.
Over the last three innings, the Rams outscored the Pirates 6-5, to push the score to its final at 18-11.
In all, both teams combined for 29 runs on 34 hits and ECU's pitching staff staked VCU to 14 free bases (nine walks and five hit batsmen). Cannon, Clark, Reinheimer and Wooten combined for half of ECU's 16 hits and Wright drove in a team-best three runs.
The Pirates will be back in action this weekend (Mar. 16-18) when they host Penn State in a three-game series at Clark-LeClair Stadium. First pitch for Friday, Mar. 16 is scheduled for 6 p.m. (EST).