Alabama completes three-game sweep of VMI

vmi_logoConnor Bach had a solid performance in his first career weekend start and Rob Dickinson went 3 for 5 with two doubles, but the Alabama Crimson Tide scored four runs in the sixth inning to turn the game around and post a 7-4 victory over the VMI Keydets in NCAA baseball action Sunday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

After the Keydets (0-3) scored three runs to tie the game in the fifth, doing so on a two-run double by Dickinson and an RBI single by Red Dowdell, Bach walked the second batter of the Tide’s sixth inning. That was the end of his day, as Rian Ellis was summoned from the bullpen. Five of the next six Alabama hitters would reach, including RBI singles by Cary Baxter, Ryan Blanchard and Georgie Salem, as the home team plated the four decisive runs for a lead it would not relinquish.

Bach (0-1) took the loss after the sixth-inning walk scored, as his ledger showed four runs (three earned) over 5 1/3 innings. He allowed just three hits, walking four and striking out seven. Tucker Hawley (1-0) got the win in relief for Alabama, entering in the fifth inning and allowing one run in 2 1/3 frames. Justin Kamplain picked up his first save.

“I was extremely proud of how we competed in all three games this weekend,” said VMI head coach Marlin Ikenberry. “We now know what we need to work on, and are a better club because of it. I was impressed with Connor’s outing today, we simply could not stop the big inning in the sixth.”

The Keydets missed an excellent chance in the second inning, as they put their first two runners on against Tide starter Charley Sullivan. A Cameron Walter bunt moved those runners to second and third with only one out, but Sullivan struck out Stallings for the second out. Jordan Tarsovich walked to load the bases, but Ray Lopez was called out on strikes to end the inning.

Alabama got on the board in the bottom half, taking the game’s first lead for the first time in the series. An RBI double by Kenny Roberts and Booth’s RBI single gave the Tide a 2-0 lead. They would add a run in the fourth, as after the first two hitters walked, Bach committed a throwing error to allow them to advance 90 feet. Baxter then lofted a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring the game’s third run.

The Keydets struck for three runs in the fifth to knot the score. Stallings led off with a single, and Tarsovich drew his second walk of the day. Lopez’s sacrifice bunt moved both runners up, and Dickinson hammered a two-run double to right, scoring two runs and cutting Alabama’s lead to 3-2. Will Connerley followed with an infield hit, the first hit of his collegiate career, and Nick Dwyer singled to load the bases. Dowdell then delivered a RBI infield hit of his own, tying the game at 3. Neither team could score again until the decisive home half of the sixth inning.

After falling behind 7-3, VMI responded in the seventh. Dickinson led off with a first pitch double to the right-center alley, and went to third on a wild pitch. Connerley followed with a sacrifice fly, making it a 7-4 contest, but the Keydets had just one more baserunner the rest of the way as the home team held on for the victory.

Offensively, Dickinson’s 3 for 5 effort led the Keydets, as he also was credited with a pair of runs driven in. In addition, Thomas Stallings chipped in with two hits in his first start of the year, while Tarsovich drew two walks and Dwyer went 1 for 3. Tarsovich concludes the series having reached base in 7 of his 13 plate appearances, while Dwyer went 7 for 12 (.583) in Tuscaloosa.

Salem led Alabama with a 2 for 4 day.

The Keydets return to the Commonwealth of Virginia for their next game, as VMI is scheduled to face Richmond on Tuesday at 2:30 in Richmond.

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