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Fifth inning the difference as VMI drops series finale to The Citadel

vmiTwo home runs in a three-run fifth inning turned the game around and helped The Citadel Bulldogs defeat the VMI Keydets, 4-2, in the finale of a three-game Southern Conference series contested Sunday in Lexington, Va. With the victory, The Citadel won the series two games to one.

VMI (14-13, 1-2 SoCon) held a 2-0 lead early, but Drew Ellis walked to lead off the visitors’ fifth. He moved to second on a passed ball, and one out later, Clay Martin homered to right to tie the score. After a groundout, Phillip Watcher homered to right center – his first long ball of the year – to give the Bulldogs (11-13, 2-1) a lead they would not surrender.

The uprising made a winner of Jacob Watcher (4-1), who gave up two runs over six innings. Zach Lavery allowed just one baserunner – a walk – over the final two innings to notch his fifth save, while Josh Winder (3-2) gave up four runs in six innings and took the loss.

The Keydets jumped ahead in the third on a two-out RBI double by David Geary, and added on in the fourth on a Tyler Tharp solo home run to right field. It was the second straight day on which Tharp had gone deep and was his sixth long ball of the season.

After the fourth inning, however, VMI got just one runner into scoring position the rest of the way, and The Citadel answered with the crucial three-spot in the fifth. The Bulldogs added a run on a sacrifice fly by Bret Hines in the sixth to account for the final margin.

The Keydets had one final threat, when Matt Pita walked to lead off the seventh. One out later, he stole second and after a strikeout, hemoved to third on a balk. Will Malbon grounded out to end the inning, however.

Offensively, Ellis had the only multi-hit game for either side, as he went 2 for 3.

VMI baseball will return to action Tuesday, when the Keydets play host to Virginia Tech at 6 p.m. The game is available on ESPN3.