Baseball: VMI completes surprise weekend sweep of Mercer, taking two on Saturday
VMI got two outstanding starting pitching performances Saturday and swept both ends of a Southern Conference doubleheader against visiting Mercer, 4-3 in the opener, and 10-0 in seven innings in Game 2.
Both victories were walk-off wins, and redshirt freshman first baseman Justin Starke, this week’s SoCon Player of the Week, had six hits in the two games.
Mercer (20-14/8-4) was leading the SoCon’s Red Division heading into the weekend’s action.
The first game ended in dramatic fashion. Trailing 4-3, Callen Nuccio led off the ninth with a single and a Ty Swaim sacrifice bunt moved him to second. Cody Warner followed with a walk and Will Knight loaded the bases with a single.
Following the second out of the inning, Justin Starke delivered a single to left field to bring home two runners and end the contest.
Redshirt senior Jacob Menders threw a complete game for the win, his second victory of the season. The right-hander worked out of jams in the eighth and ninth innings to keep his team in the game, throwing 137 pitches. He scattered seven hits and five walks while striking out four.
Starke went 3-for-4 with a walk, Warner had two hits and a walk, and Swaim had two hits.
Angelo DiSpigna hit a two-run home run for Mercer in the seventh to give the Bears a 4-3 lead.
VMI jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning of the second game. JT Inskeep and Swaim hit RBI singles in the frame, while Cole Jenkins had the big blow, a two-run triple off the centerfield fence. Starke made it a five-run lead with a home run to left field in the third, his sixth of the season.
VMI finished off the game with five more in the seventh, Morris doubled to bring home a run and Jenkins singled to score two more runs. Warner hit a walk off two-run single to right field to end the contest via the conference’s 10-run rule.
Tyler Bradt started his first game of the season and threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings. The redshirt freshman right-hander allowed just two hits and four walks while striking out three.
Adam Jewell earned his second save of the weekend by working out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the seventh.
Starke was 3-for-3 with three runs scored and was hit by a pitch. Jenkins was 2-for-4 with two runs and four RBI, while Morris also had two hits.
Swaim had a single and was hit by two pitches.
Brandon Michie doubled for the Bears.
VMI also won Friday’s game with Mercer to sweep the three-game set, the first conference series sweep for the program since the 2018 season.
VMI (9-20/5-10) travels to Virginia Tech Tuesday for non-conference action at 6:30 p.m.