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Bullpen helps VMI win five-hour-plus affair, 9-7

In the first five-hour game in VMI baseball history, the Keydets rallied from a seven-run deficit and saw their bullpen pitch 12 2/3 shutout innings on the way to a 9-7, 13-inning win over the Furman Paladins Sunday in Greenville, S.C. The game lasted five hours and 14 minutes, nearly half an hour longer than any other game in the annals of Keydet baseball.

vmi baseballFurman (27-24, 14-10 SoCon) jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first and knocked out VMI (21-29, 7-14) starter Zak Kent just 1/3 of an inning into the contest, but VMI staged an epic rally and tied the game on a three-run homer by Jake Huggins in the seventh.

Despite numerous chances, neither team scored again until the 13th. That was when Matt Pita plated the eventual winning run on a single that scored Jacob Jaye. The Keydets added on another run in the inning, helped by two Furman errors, but had to survive one last rally. Two errors and a walk loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning, but Ryan Bennett induced a 6-3 double play to end the game and preserve the victory.

Matt Eagle and Bennett were the stars for the Keydets, as the duo combined for 12 2/3 shutout innings in relief of Kent. Bennett closed out the game by pitching the final seven innings, allowing three hits and four walks on the way to moving to 5-0. Rutty Jones allowed the two 13th-inning runs for Furman and dropped to 0-1.

Four VMI players had three hits apiece in the game, while Cameron Whitehead had three for Furman. With the victory, the Keydets maintained a one-game lead over both The Citadel and ETSU in the race for the #7 seed in the upcoming Southern Conference Tournament.

VMI baseball will return to action Tuesday, when the Keydets play host to the James Madison Dukes at Gray-Minor Stadium. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.