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VCU holds off Longwood

Junior John Lenherr and freshman Joey Cujas belted back-to-back first-inning home runs and Virginia Commonwealth University fended off three Longwood rallies during the first four innings, holding on to defeat the Lancers 8-4 in non-conference action Wednesday night at Bolding Stadium.

VCU improves to 11-16 overall, while Longwood slips to 21-12. The Rams avenge a 6-1 loss in Richmond on March 9 to earn the season split with the Lancers.

Lenherr and Cujas contributed two hits apiece and combined for half of VCU’s eight runs. Five other Rams collected a hit with senior Michael Cheatham and junior Kyle Sutherland each posting a RBI.

Junior Michael Graham was solid in relief for VCU, tossing four scoreless innings with four strikeouts to earn his first win of the season. Starter Blake Hauser, who left the game with a 6-4 lead, worked the first three innings, while junior Josh Alford tossed two perfect frames to register his first save.

Matt Gwaltney suffered the loss for Longwood, surrendering six runs on six hits in three innings.

Back-to-back two-out home runs from Lenherr and Cujas gave VCU a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Lenherr roped a shot off the scoreboard in right before Cujas’ ball sailed over the left field fence.

The lead didn’t last long, however, as Longwood matched the Rams effort in its first trip to the plate. Michael Sims reached on an infield single with one out and Brant Jones doubled down the left field line to cut the Lancers’ deficit in half. An RBI groundout by Scott Burkett then plated Jones to make it 2-2.

Robby Newman, who singled to lead off the bottom of the second, scored on a wild pitch to give Longwood its first lead of the night but both teams continued to trade runs and VCU went back in front with a pair in the top of the third. A throwing error loaded the bases with two outs and sophomore Nick Kime delivered a single up the middle to give the Black & Gold a 4-3 advantage.

The Lancers again tied it in the bottom of the third on a single by Newman but VCU regained the lead, 6-4, in the fourth after Cujas drew a bases loaded walk and Cheatham lifted a sacrifice fly into center.

Sutherland gave VCU a three-run advantage in the seventh with a two-out single into center and freshman Bill Cullen came home on a wild throw by Burkett following a double steal in the eighth.

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