Winthrop Eagle T.J. Olesczuk led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a triple and scored on a Clay Altman sacrifice fly for the only run of the game, as Winthrop edged the VMI Keydets 1-0 in Big South baseball action Friday in Rock Hill, S.C. The loss dropped VMI (22-17, 9-10 Big South) to seventh in the Big South standings, one game behind Winthrop (19-26, 10-9 BSC).
After both teams had wasted chances throughout the contest, Olesczuk hit a 2-0 pitch from Reed Garrett high off the left-center field wall for his second triple of the year. Babe Thomas and John Menken were intentionally walked, but with the infield in, Altman lofted a 1-0 pitch to medium-deep left field for the game-winning sacrifice fly.
In the loss, the Keydets wasted a spectacular effort by Garrett, who dropped to 5-5 with the hard-luck loss. He went 8 1/3 innings, giving up just one earned run on six hits, but was bested by Sam Kmiec (5-3), who scattered five hits and did not walk a batter in his complete game.
Winthrop threatened in the second when Thomas led off with a double and Menken bunted him to third. Altman then skied a pop-up into foul ground near the first base dugout that Cameron Walter caught leaning halfway over the railing for out number two, and Brad Kaczka flied out to the inning. A third inning WU threat also went for naught when Tanner Dofflemyer made a sliding, backhand play near second base to start an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
The Keydets rallied in the fourth when Eric Mayers doubled with one out. Walter then reached on an error, putting runners at the corners, but Thomas Stallings bounced into a double play to end the inning.
From there, both Garrett and Kmiec settled in and neither team had a hit until the seventh inning. Stalling singled with one out and moved to second on a wild pitch, but Will Connerley struck out and Matt Winn grounded out to end the inning.
Winthrop then nearly broke through in the eighth, when Kyle Edwards had a one-out single and Leighton Daniels followed with a single of his own. Cody Dolan then lined to Dofflemyer, who quickly threw to Jordan Tarsovich covering second for a double play that ended the inning.
The Keydets threatened in the top of the ninth, as Brandon Angus led off with a single and advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Mayers. Walter then drilled a ground ball down the third base line that Kaczka made a spectacular play on for the second out, and Stallings grounded out to retire the side and set the stage for the decisive moments in the bottom of the inning.
The setback was VMI’s first 1-0 loss since March 27, 2010 against Charleston Southern – A game won by current Milwaukee Brewer farmhand Tyler Thornburg.
At the plate, Angus led the Keydets with two hits and Daniels had two singles for Winthrop.
VMI baseball returns to action Saturday for game two of the series at Winthrop. First pitch is set for 3 p.m.