Asheville completes sweep of VMI
The VMI Keydets brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning, but the UNC Asheville Bulldogs were able to retire the game’s final two hitters and emerge with a 9-5 win in Big South baseball action Sunday afternoon at Greenwood Field.
The Keydets (6-13, 0-3 Big South) opened the ninth down 9-3 after Asheville (11-9, 3-0) had scored five runs in the middle innings. Eric Mayers started the rally with a double to left-center, and Drew Bryan and Sheldon Shifflett worked back to back walks. Cameron Walter followed with a RBI single, making it 9-4, and Rob Dickinson tacked on one of his own, cutting the deficit to four, 9-5.
That brought up VMI cleanup hitter Jacob Morley as the tying run, but Asheville’s Ethan Steible induced an infield fly to retire Morley and then struck out Thomas Stallings to end the game.
Morley led the Keydets with a 3 for 5 day, as the senior had three doubles, while Ian Graham and Hunter Bryant had three hits apiece for UNC Asheville.
On the mound, Dean Roland (4-2) was the winning pitcher, allowing three runs (one earned) over eight innings. Roland struck out seven and did not walk a batter. Jeremy Brown (0-2) took the loss for VMI, throwing five innings and surrendering four runs (three earned).
Asheville struck first, notching two runs in the opening inning off Brown. Eli Miller had a one out single, and then stole second. After a walk and a strikeout, Graham doubled down the left field line to score Miller, and Keydet left fielder Gary LeClair bobbled the ball, allowing a second runner to score and the home team to take a 2-0 advantage.
VMI responded with a second-inning run, as Morley led off the frame with a double. He advanced to third on a wild pitch, and one out later, Chase Worthington hit a high hopper to third. Asheville’s Cody Buch fielded the ball and threw home, but the throw was late and the lead was cut to 2-1.
The visitors then tied the game in the fourth, sparked again by Morley. The senior led off the inning with another double, went to third on a ground ball, and scored when a LeClair ground ball took a bad hop past UNC Asheville shortstop Casey Ebersole, tying the game at 2.
Asheville came back with two runs in the fifth, each of which scored with two outs, and pulled away with three in the sixth. A pair of doubles by Todd Joyner, one in each inning, were the key blows. VMI scored once in the seventh, due to a throwing error following a single by Walter, but the Bulldogs put up single runs in both the seventh and eighth to make it 9-3, and set the stage for the late-game attempted rally.
VMI baseball will return to action Wednesday, taking on Virginia in Charlottesville. Game time is set for 5 p.m.