Two home runs from Matt Pita, including a game-tying two-run shot in the ninth, were not enough as the Samford Bulldogs rallied for a 7-6, 10-inning win over the VMI Keydets in SoCon action Thursday in Birmingham, Ala. The game was the opener of a doubleheader.
After Pita’s two-run shot tied the game for the Keydets (20-33) in the ninth, completing a rally from a 6-2 eighth-inning deficit, Samford (31-23) put together the winning rally in the bottom of the 10th. Hunter Swilling was hit by a pitch and Heath Quinn walked against Taylor Edens. A fielder’s choice was good for the first out, and Alex Lee was walked intentionally to load the bases. Jared Watson lined a single to left, however, scoring Swilling to give Samford the win.
Thursday’s opener was a slugfest, as five home runs were hit in the game. Pita was the only player to go deep twice, as he joined Collin Fleischer and Peyton Maddox as Keydets with double-digit longballs this season. Fleischer also went deep, doing so for the 15th time this season to move into sole possession of third place on VMI’s all-time single season listing, while Swilling and Grant Colton went yard for the home team.
Meanwhile on the mound, Edens took the loss to drop to 3-5, as he gave up one run on one hit and three walks in 1 1/3 innngs. The winning pitcher was Tristan Widra (4-4), who pitched a scoreless 10th for the home team.
The Keydets jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the third, thanks to Pita’s first homer, and VMI hurler Josh Winder handcuffed Samford in the early going. Winder left after three innings, however, perhaps with an eye on Tuesday’s SoCon Tournament opener, and the Bulldogs rallied with four runs off the VMI bullpen in the fifth to go ahead 4-1.
A sacrifice fly for Maddox in the sixth cut the lead to 4-2, but Samford notched a pair of runs in the seventh and appeared to have things in hand, headed to the eighth up 6-2. VMI came roaring back, however, with two in the eighth to make things interesting and David Geary led off the ninth with a walk. Pita jumped ahead 2-0 and deposited the next pitch over the left field wall to tie the game, 6-6, and set up the extra inning dramatics.
VMI blanked in Game 2
Mikhail Cazenave held the VMI Keydets to four hits over seven shutout innings, while his Samford Bulldogs took advantage of two VMI errors to score six runs in the first inning en route to a 7-0 win in SoCon baseball action Thursday in Birmingham, Ala. With the win, Samford completed a doubleheader sweep.
After winning the opener in extra innings, Samford (32-23, 13-10 SoCon) scored early in game two. Two first-inning errors opened the door for a six-run frame, and five of the runs were unearned in the process.
From there, Cazenave held the Keydets (20-34, 3-20) to just four hits in his seven innings. Keydet pitching limited Samford to just one run the rest of the way, but unlike in game one, where VMI rallied against the Samford bullpen, two Bulldogs relievers held VMI to just one hit in the final two innings to close out the win.
On the mound, the starters got the decisions as Matthew Eagle (5-7) suffered the effects of the five unearned runs and took the loss. Eagle was charged with seven runs in five innings, but only two were earned. Cazenave moved to 4-1 with the win, as he walked two and struck out seven.
In Thursday’s twinbill, Matt Pita and Collin Fleischer became the ninth and 10th Keydet players all-time to exceed 120 bases in a single season.
In addition, depending on who plays in Saturday’s series finale, as many as six players could tie the VMI school record for games played in a season. 18 players in school history have played in 55 games in a season, and VMI currently has six players who have played in 54 games this season.
VMI baseball will return to action Saturday, when the Keydets and Samford wrap up their series at 1 p.m. local time (2 p.m. ET).