Coby Cowgill combined with two relievers on a four-hit shutout, and Jordan Tarsovich sparked a 11-hit attack with a 3 for 4 night as the VMI Keydets defeated the Lafayette Leopards, 8-0, in non-conference baseball action Friday evening at Gray-Minor Stadium. The game marked the home opener for VMI and the season opener for Lafayette.
The Keydet (1-3) pitching staff had a stellar evening, as Cowgill (1-0) combined with John Garrett and Travis Thomas to allow just four hits over nine shutout frames, all while walking only one batter. The trio also combined for 11 strikeouts in the shutout, as the visiting Leopards had just two runners in scoring position all night.
Tarsovich, meanwhile, was 3 for 4 with a double, a triple, a run scored and two stolen bases. The sophomore also drove in a run, all while hitting out of the leadoff slot. His triple was one of a trio of Keydet three-baggers, as Jacob Morley and Cameron Walter also had them. That marked the most triples in a game for VMI since March 31, 2007 against Savannah State, when the Keydets also had three.
After a delay of nearly two hours due to rain, the game finally got underway at 4:46 EST, and the Keydets struck first in the second. Drew Bryan was hit by a pitch with one out, one of three Keydets to be plunked Friday, and the freshman advanced to second on a wild pitch. He then scored when Matt Winn capped a seven-pitch at-bat with a double just inside the third base bag, putting VMI up, 1-0. It was the first collegiate hit for Winn.
VMI added to its lead in the third, when Morley led off with a triple and George Piccirilli blasted an RBI double to right field, making it a 2-0 contest. Two outs later, Thomas Stallings looped a single to right, scoring Piccirilli and making it VMI 3, Lafayette 0. The hit was the first career base knock for Stallings.
The Keydets left two on in the fourth, but struck again in the sixth. Bryan ignited the rally once again, reaching on an error, and he would score on an RBI single by classmate Nick Dwyer. Dwyer then stole second, and Tarsovich blasted a triple to right, bringing home the Keydets’ fifth run of the night. Piccirilli capped the inning with a sacrifice fly, pushing VMI’s lead to 6-0.
The home team wrapped up the scoring in the seventh, when Walter had an RBI triple and scored on Bryan’s sacrifice fly to account for the final margin. The visitors managed to put a runner in scoring position in the eighth, as Andrew Ruck had Lafayette’s lone extra base hit of the night, but the Leopards left him stranded as the VMI bullpen completed the shutout.
In addition to Tarsovich, Dwyer had the other multiple-hit game for the Keydets, a collegiate first for the Lone Star State native. Piccirilli drove in two runs and Bryan scored twice in the balanced attack. On the mound, Cowgill struck out six and walked only one, his second straight game with only a single free pass given. The junior has now walked one or fewer hitters in six straight outings, dating back to last season.
With the victory, VMI moves to 9-0 in home openers under head coach Marlin Ikenberry, and 6-0 in such games since the 2007 opening of Gray-Minor Stadium.
For Lafayette, Kevin Casey had two hits, while John Gentile, the starting pitcher, took the loss. Gentile went five innings and surrendered three runs, all earned, on five hits. He struck out two and walked one.
VMI and Lafayette will resume their series Saturday, with the first pitch at Gray-Minor Stadium set for 3 p.m.