The VMI Keydets put the tying runs on base in the ninth inning, but could not complete the comeback attempt and saw their five-game winning streak come to an end with a 5-2 loss to the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs Saturday in Boiling Springs, N.C.
Trailing 5-2, Cameron Walter led off the VMI (14-10, 5-3 Big South) ninth with a single and Gary LeClair pinch ran at first base. Thomas Stallings followed with a pinch-hit single and Brad Haymes relieved Mitch Warner for Gardner-Webb (10-17, 3-5 BSC). After two strikeouts, Matt Winn walked to load the bases and Tyler Tharp pinch-hit for Tanner Dofflemyer, representing the go-ahead run. Haymes struck out Tharp on a 1-2 pitch, ending the game and the Keydet winning streak.
On the mound, Andrew Barnett (4-1) picked up the win for Gardner-Webb, striking out 14 in seven innings. He allowed two runs on three hits, all of which came in the third inning. Haymes picked up his first save and Connor Bach (2-4) took the loss, allowing five runs (three earned) in 5 2/3 innings of work. Both pitching staffs limited the opposing offenses, as no player had a multi-hit game for either squad.
The day got off to a slow start, as the game’s start time was delayed nearly five hours by rain. When it did start, much of the game was played in a steady, sometimes driving, drizzle.
Gardner-Webb jumped ahead in the first inning against Bach. JJ Nazzaro led off with a walk and Henry Rundio followed with a RBI double, advancing to third on a throw home as GWU took a 1-0 advantage. Rundio was thrown out on Scott Coleman’s fielder’s choice grounder to the mound, but Scott Johnson walked and one out later, so did Hunter Smith. Alex Newman then fisted a blooper over the infield for a two-run single, making it 3-0 GWU.
Barnett struck out six of the first nine Keydets, but with two outs in the third, VMI mounted a rally.
Jordan Tarsovich legged out a double to right-center and Brandon Angus followed with a triple to deep right-center, scoring the first Keydet run to make it a 3-1 game. Eric Mayers then followed with a two-bagger of his own, making it a one-run contest, but Barnett induced Walter to ground out to end the inning and he would not allow another hit.
Gardner-Webb added on in the fourth, after Mayers was charged with a two-base error on a fly ball, allowing Nick Triplett to reach. One out later, Brantley Smith singled him home to make it 4-2, GWU.
That margin grew to three in the sixth inning, when with two outs, Paul Trick was hit by a pitch. Ryan Hodge ran for him, but Bach induced a popup that Tarsovich drew a bead on while looking up into the mist. The ball hit the pocket of the VMI second baseman’s glove and bounced out for an error, allowing Hodge to score from first and the home team to go up 5-2.
The game was delayed just over 20 minutes due to the weather in the seventh, but regardless, neither team could mount another rally until the Keydet comeback attempt in the ninth.