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VMI drops series opener at Elon, 3-2

vmiAn eighth-inning home run was the difference in a pitcher’s duel as the Elon Phoenix edged the VMI Keydets, 3-2, in non-conference baseball action Friday in Elon, N.C. The game was the opener of a three-game weekend series.

Ryan Conroy of Elon and VMI’s Josh Winder had matched each other pitch for pitch Friday and entered the bottom of the eighth in a 2-2 tie, but with two outs, Kyle Jackson of Elon hit a 2-1 offering from Winder for a solo home run to left field. That gave Elon a 3-2 lead, and Conroy was able to retire the Keydets in order in the ninth for the victory.

Neither club had to dip into its bullpen Friday, as both pitchers recorded complete games. Winder dropped to 3-1 after allowing three runs on seven hits over eight innings. He struck out six and walked two. Conroy struck out nine and gave up just one earned run – a solo home run to Peyton Maddox – in going to 3-0 on the season.

Elon drew first blood, when Jackson led off the second with a double and James Venuto singled to right-center to score him and give the Phoenix a 1-0 lead.

The Keydets tied the game in the fifth, when Jacob Jaye led off with a single and moved to third when Mason Adamson put down a sacrifice bunt that was muffed for an error. One out later, Matt Dunlevy had an infield hit to tie the game, 1-1, but Matt Pita grounded into an inning-ending double play. Other than a solo home run, the Keydets would get just one runner into scoring position over the four innings.

Elon retook the lead with a run in the sixth, and Maddox tied the game in the seventh with his third home run in his last five games. That set the stage for Jackson’s go-ahead long ball in the eighth.

Offensively, Jackson and Venuto had two hits apiece to lead Elon, while Dunlevy and Maddox had two hits apiece for VMI. Tyler Tharp saw both his nine-game hitting streak and his 15-game streak of reaching base come to an end.

VMI and Elon resume their series at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

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