Malbon and Bullpen help VMI Keydets past Rider, 4-1
A two-run homer by Will Malbon in the fifth inning turned the game around and the bullpen pitched four hitless innings, helping the VMI Keydets defeat the Rider Broncs, 4-1, in the series finale between the clubs Sunday at Gray-Minor Stadium in Lexington.
With the Keydets (13-9) down 1-0 in the fifth, Malbon powered a 1-2 pitch over the right field wall for a two-run shot, his first of the year, to give VMI a lead it would not surrender. The Keydets tacked on an additional run later in the inning, and one in the sixth as well.
That capped the scoring, thanks to four hitless innings combined for by Micah Gorman, Kyle Staats, Jack Gomersall and Taylor Edens. Rider (2-14) managed three baserunners over those frames, thanks to an error and two walks, but only one reached scoring position.
Starter Brandon Barbery (2-2) picked up the victory, as he allowed one run on five hits over five innings. Barbery struck out three and walked three, but pitched out of trouble on multiple occasions. His efforts contributed heavily to Rider going 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position, and 1 for 15 with any runners on base.
Edens picked up his fourth save by recording the game’s last five outs, and C.J. Hirschy took the loss to fall to 0-3 for Rider. Hirschy gave up four runs, three earned, on six hits over five frames.
Rider put a runner in scoring position with less than two outs in three of the first four innings, but could not break through until the fifth. Jake Bender led off with a double and moved to third on an infield out. Dalton Mayberry then scored him with a ground ball, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead.
That margin was short lived, as Tyler Tharp walked with one out in the bottom of the frame. One out later, he stole second and Malbon drilled a 1-2 pitch over the right field wall for his first home run of the season, giving the Keydets a 2-1 lead. A David Geary RBI single made it 3-1 later in the frame.
The Keydets added on in the seventh on a bizarre play. With runners at first and second, Jacob Jaye hit a slow grounder to first base. First baseman Riley Mihalik threw to second in time for a force, but with no play on a hustling Jaye at first, shortstop Bender threw to third looking for a tag play and an odd 3-6-5 double play. The throw skipped away, however, and Matt Pita charged home to score to make it a 4-1 contest.
That would prove to be the final margin, but not without drama in the eighth inning. Mayberry walked with one out and Lee Lipinski walked as well, bringing the tying run to the plate and Edens out of the bullpen. He induced a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat and Rider would not have any baserunners the rest of the way.
Offensively, the Keydets were led by Geary’s 2 for 4 game, while Mike Volaski had a pair of hits for the visitors.
VMI baseball will return to action Tuesday, when the Keydets travel to Norfolk to take on Old Dominion in the first of two midweek games. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.