Coastal completes sweep of reeling VMI
Edited by Chris Graham
Tommy La Stella went 4-for-5 at the plate to lead No. 7 Coastal Carolina to a 6-2 win over VMI Sunday afternoon at Gray-Minor Stadium.
Coastal Carolina’s 17th consecutive win improves them to 36-5 overall and 14-0 in the Big South, while VMI falls to 29-12 on the season and 10-8 in league play.
The Keydets have lost seven straight since knocking off then-#1 UVa. 12-3 in Lexington on April 14.
La Stella was one of six Chanticleers with an RBI in the contest, while Daniel Bowman, Chance Gilmore and Taylor Motter each had a pair of hits, including a solo home run. On the mound, reliever Matt Rein (5-0) allowed just one hit in four innings, striking out six while walking one. He worked in relief of Austin Fleet, who allowed two runs, one earned, in four innings, striking out seven and allowing four hits. Ryan Connolly worked a perfect ninth, striking out a pair.
Sam Roberts (5-3) allowed four runs in his start, as a patient Chanticleer lineup drove up the junior’s pitch count to 75 in his three innings. Chris Duty allowed just one run in 3.2 innings, as did John Garrett over the final 2.1 frames. Offensively, the Keydets had just five hits, with Roberts collecting a double for VMI’s lone extra-base hit of the day.
Each team scored a run in the first inning in similar fashion. Rico Noel led off with a walk for the Chants then scored two batters later on La Stella’s single through the right-side. In the home-half, Roberts drew a leadoff walk and scored two batters later when Graham Sullivan connected for a knock through the left-side of the infield.
The Chants took the lead for good in the second, when Gilmore and Motter hit back-to-back home runs with two outs. The visitors pushed the lead to 4-1 in the third, as Scott Woodward drew a leadoff walk and scored on an infield single by Adam Rice.
The Keydets cut the margin to 4-2 in the fourth, scoring an unearned run. Alex Haitsuka opened the frame by reaching base on a fielding error, then stole second base and advanced to third on another error, this time on the catcher’s throw to second. He trotted home on George Piccirilli’s one-out single to move the Keydets to within two runs.
VMI drew no closer, however, as Bowman led off the sixth with a home run before the final score of the game came in the ninth, when Woodward crossed the plate on a groundout, capping the scoring at 6-2.
Rein and Connolly, meanwhile, faced the minimum in their combined five innings. The duo allowed just two base runners on a hit and a walk, but had one thrown out on a stolen base attempt and another picked off at first.
VMI returns to action Tuesday, as nationally-ranked Virginia Tech comes to Gray-Minor Stadium for a 6 p.m. contest. Fans can watch the game on the Big South Network, available at www.BigSouthSports.com, or listen to the game on the VMI Sports Network, available online at www.VMIKeydets.com and on either Lexington’s 3WZ 96.7 FM or Fox Sports Radio 1450 AM.