VMI 6, Charleston Southern 5
Every player in the VMI starting lineup reached base at least once, while Reed Garrett recorded his first career save with four shutout, one-hit innings to help the VMI Keydets defeat the Charleston Southern Buccaneers, 6-5, in Big South baseball action Friday night at Gray-Minor Stadium.
While Rob Dickinson had three hits, including a two-run triple, it was Matt Winn’s clutch fifth-inning double that gave VMI (15-32, 7-15 Big South) the lead for good. With runners on second and third and CSU (18-30, 9-10 BSC) nursing a one-run lead, Winn roped a two-run double to center field, scoring both runners and putting the Keydets up, 6-5.
Garrett then came out of the bullpen and allowed just an eighth-inning single, facing the minimum 12 hitters over the final four frames. He struck out six of those 12 hitters he retired in earning the save. Jeremy Brown (1-5) got the victory, allowing five runs over five innings to grab his first win of the year, while starter Ryan Gunther dropped to 0-8 with the loss for CSU.
The Keydets scored first on this night, as Dickinson led off the VMI first with a single. George Piccirilli bunted him to second, and Jacob Morley notched an infield hit. One out later, Nick Dwyer drove a double down the left field line, scoring Dickinson to put VMI up, 1-0.
The home team then added to that margin in the second. Brandon Angus led off with a double, missing a home run by no more than five feet. Chase Worthington then had a bunt single, and after a fielder’s choice erased Angus at home, Dickinson hit a hard, bouncing ball over the head of CSU first baseman Robbie Streett. The hit, narrowly fair, rolled all the way into the right-field corner for a triple, scoring two runs and pushing the Keydet margin to 3-0. Piccirilli then singled Dickinson home, making it a 4-0 contest.
Gunther, however, would go on to retire eight straight hitters, beginning with a double play that ended the second, giving his team a chance to rally. CSU did just that in the fifth. Streett walked with one out, and after Brown struck out Blake Hunt, the Bucs strung together five consecutive two-out hits, capped by Chase Shelton’s three-run double to right center. The blow gave CSU its first lead of the night, 5-4.
That margin was short lived, as the Keydets struck back in the bottom half of the inning. Piccirilli led off with a walk, and Morley hit a bouncing single to left, a hit that moved him into sole possession of seventh place on VMI’s all-time career hits list.
Cameron Walter then sacrificed the runners up a base, but Gunther recovered to strike out Dwyer for the second out. He then got ahead of Winn with a first-pitch strike, but the VMI catcher drove the next pitch over the head of center fielder Bobby Ison for a double, scoring Piccirilli and Morley to give the Keydets the lead once again, 6-5.
That would be all the margin Garrett would need, as he allowed only an Alex Tomasovich eighth-inning single the rest of the way. That hit, in fact, was immediately erased via a double play, as Garrett required just 46 pitches to complete his dominating outing and close out the victory.
The VMI offense, meanwhile, saw seven of the nine hitters post at least one hit, led by Dickinson’s three and Morley’s two. The two hitters that did not notch a hit reached base either via a walk or a hit by pitch, while CSU had four players go 2 for 4 on the night.
VMI and Charleston Southern will resume their series Saturday at Gray-Minor Stadium, with the first pitch set for 5 p.m.