Eaton’s cycle the story as VMI sweeps Lafayette in doubleheader

vmi baseballNathan Eaton went 5 for 5 and hit for the cycle in game one, while Zak Kent pitched six shutout innings in game two to power the VMI Keydets to a doubleheader sweep of the Lafayette Leopards, 10-5 and 8-1, in non-conference baseball action Friday in Lexington, Va. The doubleheader served as VMI’s home opener.

In game one, the Keydets jumped on Lafayette starter Brett Kreyer quickly, as Eaton led off the bottom of the first with a line drive homer to left, his third long ball in the season’s first five games. The Leopards scored three unearned runs off Josh Winder (1-0) in the third, but VMI quickly got those back in the bottom of the frame and never trailed again.

With his team down 3-1, Eaton sparked the third inning rally with his legs, as he doubled to start the frame, stole third and scored on a throwing error to cut the margin to 3-2. Peyton Maddox and Jake Huggins had RBI singles later in the inning, giving the Keydets the lead for good at 4-3.

Eaton then helped create another run with his legs in the fourth, when he doubled with one out, stole third after a walk and then stole home on the back end of a double steal to make it a 5-3 game.

The visitors got back on the board with a run in the sixth off Derek Tremblay, but Eaton drilled a RBI triple in the sixth to give VMI that run right back at 6-4. Dan Leckie homered in the seventh to make it a one-run game, capping a 10-pitch at-bat with the long ball, but Matt Dunlevy’s two-run single in the bottom of the frame made it 8-5.

Eaton then capped the cycle with a single to open the eighth, starting a two-run rally to account for the final margin.

Eaton became the first Keydet to hit for the cycle since Matt Pita did it in 2016 against Binghamton, and became the first Keydet to record five hits in a game since the season-opening series in 2015. He and Pita combined to go 6 for 7 with six runs scored, three walks and five stolen bases in the top two spots in the VMI batting order.

Winder was the winning pitcher in game one, allowing just three unearned runs in five solid innings to go to 1-0, while Kreyer dropped to 0-2 with the loss.

It was more of the same in game two, as the Keydets (4-2) scored the game’s first seven runs. Matt Dunlevy went 2 for 4 with a homer to lead the offense, and Zak Kent (1-1) threw 60 of his 87 pitches for strikes in six three-hit, shutout innings of work.

Starter Jon Faraci (0-1) gave up the first two VMI runs in three innings of work and took the loss for LC.

It was the first time the Keydets swept a doubleheader since April 26, 2015 at The Citadel, and ran the Keydet win streak over Lafayette (1-4) to eight consecutive games.

VMI baseball will return to action Saturday, when the Keydets take on Lafayette in the series finale. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.

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