Jordan Tarsovich and Eric Mayers homered and the VMI bullpen held the high point Panthers to three hits over the final 4 1/3 innings, helping the Keydets down high point 4-3 in Big South baseball action Saturday in High Point, N.C. The victory evened the series at one game apiece and was VMI’s first two-homer game as a team since March 23 of last season at Longwood.
VMI (19-14, 7-7 Big South) took a 3-2 lead into the top of the eighth inning, helped by Tarsovich’s home run that led off the game, and Mayers led off that frame with a home run to straightaway left field. The senior’s third long ball of the year gave the Keydets a 4-2 lead.
They would need the extra run as HPU (20-15, 8-6 Big South) got one back in the bottom of the eighth. Jonathan Kelley struck out pinch-hitter Mitch Reeves with the tying run on second in that frame, and Berkley Hawkins worked around a two-out double in the ninth to close out the Keydet victory, VMI’s first at high point since March 20, 2010. It was Hawkins’ second save of the season.
On the mound, Taylor Edens (2-0) picked up the win with three innings of strong relief, allowing just two hits over three innings. Edens earned his second win in VMI’s last three games as Keydet starter Connor Bach was knocked out in the fifth, having allowing two runs on two hits and five walks. high point starter Mike Krumm gave up three runs, two earned, on seven hits in four-plus innings and dropped to 3-5 with the loss.
Nearly half of VMI’s offense came from the top two spots in the batting order, as Tarsovich and Mayers combined to go 4 for 8 with four RBI’s and three runs scored. Dane McDermott and Josh Greene had two hits apiece for high point.
The Keydets jumped ahead in the first inning on Tarsovich’s leadoff home run, as the second baseman launched a 1-1 pitch over the left field wall for his second long ball of the year.
The score remained 1-0 until the third, when Tanner Dofflemyer led off with a walk in a 10-pitch at-bat. Tarsovich followed with a bunt single. On the play, he collided with first baseman Spencer Angelis in the baseline and the ball rolled down the right field line, allowing both runners to move up a base. Mayers followed with a two-run single to push the lead to 3-0, VMI.
high point got on the board in the fourth inning, when Greene led off with a single and Angelis walked. One out later, Brady Williamson walked to load the bases and Dominic Fazio lofted a sacrifice fly to right, cutting the VMI lead to 3-1. A throwing error on a stolen base attempt later in the inning allowed another run to score, making it a 3-2 game.
The home team threatened in the fifth, when McDermott had a one-out single against Bach. Kyle Brandenburg walked, and after a strikeout, Angelis walked as well. Edens was brought in to face Josh Spano and got him to line out to left field, ending the inning and preserving VMI’s lead.
Neither team would score again until Mayers led off the eighth with his home run. Edens then gave up a leadoff single to Greene in the eighth, the first HPU hit off the sophomore. Angelis lined out and Spano followed with a ground ball to short. Dofflemyer fed Tarsovich for the first out, but the resulting throw to first was in the dirt and allowed Spano to reach safely.
Williamson followed with a single to left that got through Mayers for an error, allowing Spano to score all the way from first to cut VMI’s lead to 4-3. Kelley was summoned from the bullpen and struck out Reeves to end the inning, and Hawkins allowed only McDermott’s ninth-inning double en route to the save.
By holding off High Point’s rally, the Keydets continue to stand undefeated in games in which they hold a lead at the conclusion of any full inning. VMI is now 11-4 this year in games decided by two runs or less, meaning that nearly half of the team’s 33 contests have been decided by that margin.
VMI baseball returns to action Sunday, closing out its series at high point. Game time is set for 1 p.m.