A four-run rally in the ninth inning tied the game, and a pair of wild pitches in the 11th brought home the winning run as the Longwood Lancers defeated the VMI Keydets, 10-9, in a non-conference contest Wednesday night in Farmville, Va.
The Keydets (15-14) took a 9-5 lead to the ninth, but a single and walk brought on Taylor Edens. Edens induced a groundout for the first out, but C.J. Roth reached on an error by the shortstop. A run scored on the play to make it 9-6, and after a single loaded the bases, a wild pitch brought home the second run.
Edens then induced a groundout for the second out of the inning, and Connor Bastaich lofted a fly ball to right field to potentially end the game. The ball was misplayed in right field for an error, however, allowing the tying runs to score. Longwood (15-11) then scored the winning run on two wild pitches in the 11th.
The four-hour, 37-minute game equaled a season-high for the Keydets, and fell just nine minutes shy of the longest recorded game in VMI history. The Keydets also stole nine bases, three shy of a school record, and the teams combined for six errors in the lengthy contest.
Cody Boydstun pitched a scoreless 11th inning (1-2) to pick up the victory for Longwood, while Eric Byrd (0-1) gave up the winning run in the bottom half of the frame after a scoreless 10th.
The Keydets jumped ahead in the first, when Tharp and Peyton Maddox drove in runs on fielder’s choice groundouts to put VMI up, 2-0. Longwood tied the game with two runs in the bottom half, one of which was unearned.
VMI answered in the third, when David Geary led off with a bunt single and stole second. After a walk and a sacrifice bunt, Maddox was hit by a pitch and Matt Dunlevy lofted a sacrifice fly to make it 3-2. Matt Pita then followed with a two-run double to left center to make it a 5-2 game.
A passed ball and infield single plated two more Keydet runs in the fourth, pushing the lead to 7-2. Longwood rallied with three runs in the sixth, but a Pita double in the seventh made it an 8-5 contest.
The Keydets threatened in the eighth when they put runners at second and third with just one out, but Ryan Jones struck out Collin Fleischer and Tharp to end the threat. That missed opportunity would be a huge moment in the game, as despite Will Malbon’s RBI single in the ninth, Longwood was able to rally in the ninth and claim victory in the 11th.
Offensively, the Keydets were led by Pita, who broke out of his recent 5 for 27 offensive downturn with a 3 for 6, three-RBI night. Three players apiece had two hits for the home team.
VMI baseball will return to action Friday, when the Keydets open a three-game SoCon series against UNCG in Greensboro, N.C. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.