Will Malbon doubled home two runs with two outs in the 10th inning, backing an epic pitching performance by freshman Josh Winder as the VMI Keydets downed the Binghamton Bearcats, 2-1, in the finale of the three-game series between the programs Sunday in Lexington, Va.
After BU (2-8) had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the 10th on a home run by shortstop Paul Rufo, Matt Pita reached via a bunt single with one out in the bottom half. Jacob Jaye then hit a ground ball to second base for a possible game-ending double play, but BU second baseman Reed Gamache could not handle the ball cleanly and got only one out on the play.
VMI took advantage quickly, as Matt Dunlevy followed with a single up the middle – just past Gamache’s glove – to put runners at the corners. Malbon worked the count full and then drove the seventh pitch of the at-bat to deep right field, just off the outstretched glove of right fielder Eddie Posavec for a walk-off double. It was VMI’s first walk-off hit since March 15, 2014, when Brandon Angus had a single against Radford.
Winder (2-1) became the first Keydet to pitch 10 innings in the aluminum bat era of college baseball (since 1974), surpassing the previous mark of 9 1/3 innings previously held by Chris Henderson from the 2009 season. He scattered seven hits, struck out 10 and did not walk a batter in his 105-pitch masterpiece.
Losing pitcher Nick Gallagher (0-1) gave up five hits in 2 2/3 innings of relief, wasting a strong effort from BU starter Jake Cryts, who matched Winder pitch for pitch through seven scoreless innings.
It was quickly evident that Sunday’s game would be different from Saturday’s 49-run doubleheader, as neither team had a hit until CJ Krowiak led off the BU fourth with a single. He was quickly erased on a line drive double play, however.
The visitors put together the game’s first threat in the fifth, when they opened the innings with back to back singles. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners to scoring position, but Winder recovered to strike out Rufo and Darian Herncane and end the inning.
BU had two at-bats with a runner at second base in the seventh and could not cash in, as the game remained scoreless into the bottom of the eighth. Gallagher relieved Cryts and Pita singled with one out. One out later, Jake Huggins singled up the middle, but Malbon flew out to end the frame.
The Keydets threatened again in the ninth against Gallagher, when David Geary and Collin Fleischer had back to back walks with one out. Peyton Maddox followed with a ground ball to deep short, but Rufo made a nifty backhand stop sliding to a knee and started an inning-ending double play to end the frame.
Winder started the 10th with two quick outs, but Rufo deposited the first pitch he saw onto the hill in center field for his third home run of the year and a 1-0 BU lead. That set up the drama in the bottom of the frame.
Offensively, Pita was the only Keydet with multiple hits, as he went 2 for 4 in the game. Brendan Skidmore had two hits for Binghamton.
VMI baseball will return to action Tuesday, when the Keydets play host to former head coach Marlin Ikenberry and the James Madison Dukes. Game time is set for 4 p.m.