JMU wins in 13 over VMI
Cole McInturff led off the 13th with a walk against VMI’s Reed Garrett (2-3). He was then bunted to second by Tyler Duke, and the next batter, Goss, hit a 1-1 pitch up the middle to score the eventual winning run. Ben Garner (1-2) retired the side in order in the 13th to pick up the victory for the visiting Dukes.
In VMI’s longest game of the year, the teams combined to leave 23 runners on base and throw 385 pitches in the 13 innings. Reed Garrett took the loss by surrendering a run in 1/3 of an inning, while Garner allowed just one hit and two walks over his three frames, as he notched the victory. It was the longest VMI baseball game since April 19, 2008, a 16-inning contest at Liberty.
Reed Garrett’s run allowed ended a streak of 19 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings by the Keydet bullpen, dating back to the sixth inning of the finale against Campbell on April 21.
The Keydets jumped ahead in the first, when Rob Dickinson hammered a 1-1 pitch well over the right field wall for his fifth home run of the year, and a 1-0 VMI advantage. JMU tied the game in the third, thanks to a RBI double by Evan Scott, squaring the score at 1-1.
The Dukes then pulled ahead in the fourth. McInturff led off the inning with a double, and Duke walked. Goss moved the runners with a bunt, and Ian Haynes was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Johnny Bladel then looped a double over the head of Jacob Morley in right field, scoring two runs, and bringing Jonathan Kelley out of the bullpen. Ty McFarland had an infield hit to plate Haynes, making it 4-1, Dukes, but Kelley then induced a 5-4-3, around the horn double play to limit the damage. The freshman would go on to throw 4 2/3 innings, a career high, and allow just two baserunners.
VMI then got a run back in the sixth, when George Piccirilli led off with an infield hit. Morley was hit by a pitch, and Cameron Walter sacrificed the runners up a base. Nick Dwyer struck out, but a pitch to the next hitter, Gary LeClair, got away for a passed ball. Piccirilli scored to pull VMI within two, 4-2.
That deficit was reduced once again in the seventh, when Matt Winn hammered a double down the left field line. Dickinson then hit a slow hopper to second base, which Goss charged and sidearmed to first. The throw got away from first baseman McFarland for an error, allowing Winn to score and make it a 4-3 contest.
The Keydets had a golden opportunity in the eighth, when Morley tripled into the right center field alley. JMU brought its infield in, and induced back to back slow rollers to shortstop. Chris Huffman then came out of the Duke bullpen and got a third grounder to short, ending the inning without VMI scoring.
Brandon Diamond led off VMI’s ninth with a pinch-hit single to right, and Drew Bryan bunted him into scoring position. Huffman got ahead of Winn at 1-2, but the Keydet catcher hit a long drive to left that bounced off the wall, just a few feet shy of a home run. It went for a double and tied the game, 4-4. Sheldon Shifflett pinch-ran for Winn, and JMU countered by walking Dickinson intentionally. Huffman then struck out Piccirilli and Morley, both swinging, to wriggle off the hook and send the game to extra innings.
In the 10th, Walter led off with a single and pinch runner Michael Donovan advanced to second on a wild pitch. Dwyer grounded to second, moving the runner to third base with just one out, but again, Huffman retired each of the next two hitters to extinguish the rally.
The Keydets had yet another threat in the 11th, this time against Garner. Bryan led off with a walk, and Andrew Montague advanced him with a sacrifice bunt. The Dukes walked Dickinson intentionally for the second time, but Piccirilli struck out and Morley flied to center to end the inning.
For the third straight inning in extra frames, the Keydets put a runner in scoring position in the 12th. Garner retired the first two batters, but Brandon Angus hit a 1-2 pitch off the wall in left field for a two-out double. Chase Worthington grounded out to end the inning, however, setting the stage for the 13th.
“I was happy with the way we fought back to tie the game in the ninth,” said VMI head coach Marlin Ikenberry “I thought Jonathan Kelley did a great job coming out of the pen, as he went 4 2/3 innings, his longest outing, and our ‘pen as a whole was great. You don’t want to extend guys going into key conference series like GWU, but we got guys work and got them out there quickly before their pitch counts got up. I thought we had chances to win the game in the later innings, and just didn’t get the key hit. The last two games we have left runners on third with less than two outs several times, which is something we need to improve on. For tonight, however, I’m very proud with how we have pitched and played defense in these last two games. It is the best we’ve done those two things in mid-week games all season.”
Neither starter figured in the decision, as VMI’s Bach allowed four runs over 3 1/3 innings, walking three. Futter allowed just one run for JMU over five frames. McInturff led JMU’s offense by going 3 for 4 and reaching base five times. Morley, Dickinson and Winn had two hits each for VMI, with Dickinson reaching base four times overall.
VMI baseball will return to action Friday, beginning a three-game series in Boiling Springs, N.C. against the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs. Game time is set for 6 p.m.