Five-run seventh the difference as WCU defeats VMI, 9-1

vmi baseballA five-run seventh inning broke open a three-run game and helped the Western Carolina Catamounts defeat the VMI Keydets, 9-1, in the opener of a three-game SoCon series Friday in Cullowhee, N.C. The game was the opener of a doubleheader.

Western Carolina (17-19, 8-5 SoCon) took a 4-1 lead to the seventh and added a run off Josh Winder three batters into the frame on a RBI single by Matt Smith. With two on, Corey Johnston relieved and after a 12-pitch at-bat ended up with a walk to Caleb Robinson, Spencer Holcomb hit a grand slam to cap the scoring.

On the mound, Bryan Sammons (5-2) was the winner as he allowed three hits over eight innings. Sammons struck out 12 and walked just two. Winder (5-4) was charged with the loss after giving up seven runs – five earned – in six frames of work.

After a first inning run and two unearned markers in the second, Western Carolina took a 3-0 lead into the third. The Keydets got a run back, however, on a RBI double by Collin Fleischer that cut the margin to 3-1. A solo home run by Cameron Blaquiere added a Catamount run in the sixth and set the stage for the seventh inning.

Offensively, Ryan Hatten had the lone two-hit game for VMI (17-21, 4-9) and Smith went 3 for 4 with two RBI to pace WCU.

Game two was paused in the second inning due to rain, with Western Carolina leading 1-0. The contest will resume at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and Saturday’spreviously scheduled game will follow.