Matt Pita, Nathan Eaton key VMI win at Samford

vmi baseballMatt Pita hit his 14th homer of the year in the first inning, and Brandon Barbery and four relievers combined on a five-hitter as the VMI Keydets downed the Samford Bulldogs, 8-2, in the regular season finale for both teams Saturday in Birmingham, Ala.

Pita blasted his fourth homer of the series as the second batter of the game, staking Barbery to an early lead. Samford (32-24, 16-8) scored in bottom of the first, but the Keydets (26-25, 12-12) came back with two in the top of the second and never trailed on the way to a season-ending win.

Barbery left with a 5-2 lead after 4 1/3 innings, limiting his pitch count with the conference tournament starting next week. Corey Johnston, Michael Geary, Matt Eagle and Nathan Eaton combined for 4 2/3 no-hit innings, backing an offense that scored three runs late to account for the final margin.

VMI’s victory, its 26th of the year, allows head coach Jonathan Hadra to surpass Donny White for the third-most coaching wins in school history. In addition, Barbery’s start was the 48th of his career, tying Trey Barham for the second-most starts in school history, and Eaton stole four bases, giving him a school-record 36 on the year.

Barbery was the winning pitcher, moving to 3-2 on the year, while Stephen Jones – the second of 10 Samford pitchers – allowed two runs in two innings and dropped to 3-5 with the loss.

Offensively, Pita and Peyton Maddox had two hits apiece, while Samford’s Branden Fryman and Brooks Carlson had multi-hit games for the home team.

In the contest, Samford’s Greg Mula became the first player in SoCon history to play all nine positions in the same game.

VMI baseball now awaits the announcement of seeding for the upcoming SoCon Championship. The tournament gets underway Tuesday, but the first VMI game will be Wednesday at Greenville, S.C.’s Fluor Field.

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