In a game that saw 11 total pitchers, the brief use of a five-infielder alignment and the winning team go 0 for 7 with runners on base, the VMI Keydets defeated the Radford Highlanders, 4-3, thanks to a walk-off wild pitch in non-conference action Wednesday night at Gray-Minor Stadium in Lexington.
After Radford (14-34) had tied the game on a two-out RBI double by Chris Coia in the top of the ninth, Matt Dunlevy was hit by a pitch to start the VMI (19-30) half of the frame. He moved to second on a throwing error by pitcher Austin Ross, and a Peyton Maddox bunt advanced him to third. Tyler Tharp was intentionally walked and Jacob Jaye drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch, loading the bases. RU pulled center fielder Coia into the middle of the infield to serve as a fifth infielder, just in front of second base, but Ross then uncorked a wild pitch to allow Dunlevy to easily score the winning run.
The rally made a winner of Taylor Edens (3-4) despite his blown save in the top of the ninth, while Ross dropped to 0-6 with the loss. He did not surrender a hit over his inning of work, but did walk four hitters.
Radford jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the third against starter Ryan Bennett, and appeared poised for a big inning when two of the first three hitters reached in the fourth. Chandler Davis then hit a hard, one-hop smash that deflected off of the lower portion of Collin Fleischer’s neck for an infield single, loading the bases, but reliever Jack Gomersall limited the damage by allowing just a sacrifice fly.
That 2-0 RU lead was the score until the seventh, as Gomersall, Blaine Lafin and Brandon Barbery kept the Highlanders off the board and gave VMI a chance to rally. The Keydets did just that in the seventh, sparked by a leadoff home run from David Geary, his sixth of the season. A Matt Dunlevy RBI groundout tied the game, and a wild pitch allowed Matt Pita to score the go-ahead run as VMI went ahead, 3-2.
The Keydets took that 3-2 lead to the ninth, but a two-out rally sent the game to the bottom of the inning. Chandler Davis was hit by a pitch, and pinch-hitter Nygeal Andrews singled up the middle. Coia then doubled down the line to score pinch-runner Jordan Taylor, but Pita got to the ball quickly, forcing Andrews to retreat to third base. Edens then retired Colby Higgerson to set the stage for the walk-offvictory.
No Keydet had more than one hit as the 10-day layoff appeared to hurt the VMI offense, while Davis and Coia had two hits apiece for the visitors.
VMI baseball will return to action Friday, when the Keydets and Furman open a three-game SoCon series at Gray-Minor Stadium. Action gets underway at 4 p.m. in VMI’s final home series of the season.