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Feb 10, 2009

Junior goes 5-for-5 with first collegiate HR

RICHMOND, Va. – Production at the top of the lineup is vital to a team’s success.

Going 5-for-5 with a home run is about as good as it gets.

That’s exactly what the Virginia Commonwealth University baseball team got from its leadoff man, junior Andrew Dimino (Greenwood, Ind.), on its way to a 9-3 victory at Virginia Military Institute on Wednesday evening at Gray-Minor Stadium.

”To get that kind of production from the top of the lineup is outstanding,” Head Coach Paul Keyes said. “Andrew was in a slump for a little while, but really started to swing the bat well last week and it obviously continued into tonight.”

With the victory, the Rams sweep the season series with the Keydets as VCU took down VMI at The Diamond last Tuesday, 17-8. The win is also the Black & Gold’s fifth straight to improve the overall mark to 15-10. VMI falls to 12-18 on the 2009 campaign.

”We’ve been playing pretty good baseball over the past week or so,” Keyes said. “This weekend is a big one with JMU coming into town. We’ll hit the field hard the rest of the week to continually improve and we’re looking to pick up some big wins against JMU.”

The offense that was so powerful last week was on display once again as Dimino and classmate Doug Otto (Jefferson City, Mo.) notched back-to-back singles to open the contest. After a passed ball moved the runners to second and third, redshirt sophomore Joe Van Meter (Oyster Bay, N.Y.) brought home Dimino we a long double off the centerfield wall.

Senior Justin Wright (Yorktown, Va.) stayed hot at the plate by smashing a two-RBI single through the right side of the infield to give the Rams a 3-0 advantage after just one half-inning of play.

VMI would answer in the bottom of the second when Alex Haitsuka launched a two-out, two-run home run over the left field fence to bring the Keydets within one at 3-2.

Dimino got the VCU offense going again in the top of the third with a single to centerfield and advanced to third on a single by Otto. Van Meter would plate Dimino for the second time in the game, this time on an RBI groundout that gave the Black & Gold a 4-2 advantage.

Junior right-hander Phillip Deane (Richmond, Va.) came out of the bullpen and held the Keydets scoreless in the third and fourth innings, but VMI got into the scoring act in the fifth when Tanner Biagini lofted an RBI double off the centerfield wall to make the score 4-3 in favor of the Rams.

Dimino struck again in the top of the seventh with an RBI double off the left field wall to plate senior R.J. Schenk (Yorktown, Va.) to extend VCU’s lead to 5-3.

In the top of the eighth, Wright launched his third home run in the past four games with a solo shot over the right-centerfield wall to push the Rams’ lead to 6-3.

VMI would threaten in the bottom of the eighth with two men on and no outs, but redshirt sophomore Aaron Morgan (Sutherland, Va.) struck out back-to-back Keydet hitters and got Jacob Morley to ground into a fielder’s choice to preserve the 6-3 advantage.
The Black & Gold would put the game out of reach in the top half of the ninth when Dimino launched his first collegiate home run, a three-run shot, over the right field wall to extend the lead to 9-3.

Morgan closed it out in the ninth with a perfect inning for his second save of the year.

Dimino was the story though, going a perfect 5-for-5 with three runs scored and four RBIs. He notched two singles, a double and his first collegiate home run. Otto and Wright were the other two Rams with multi-hit performances with two hits apiece.

Deane picked up the win in relief tossing three strong innings to improve to 2-2 on the year. Freshman Josh Alford (Midlothian, Va.) was outstanding out of the bullpen with two scoreless innings and two strikeouts.

The Rams are back in action this weekend when the Dukes of James Madison visit The Diamond for a crucial three-game set beginning with a 7 p.m. match-up on Friday evening.