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VMI rolls Youngstown State, 11-3

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Rob Dickinson went 3 for 3 with two RBI, and Gary LeClair was 2 for 4 with three runs driven in as the VMI Keydets defeated the Youngstown State Penguins, 11-3, Saturday afternoon at Gray-Minor Stadium.

LeClair had the key hit in VMI’s three-run second inning, an uprising that put the Keydets in front for good. With two outs, Chase Worthington singled to right. That started a run of five straight hitters that would reach base, and Nick Dwyer drove in the game’s first run with a single through the left side. One batter later, LeClair singled up the middle to plate two, and give VMI a 3-0 lead.

The Keydets (6-7) would then put the game out of reach with a five-run outburst in the sixth, making a winner of Campbell Henkel (1-1). The sophomore allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits over six innings, walking three and striking out four. Patrick O’Brien (0-3) took the loss for Youngstown State (0-12), as he surrendered five earned runs in five innings.

VMI moves to 6-0 on the year when scoring at least six runs, and they did so for the second consecutive game Saturday, and also to 5-0 when hitting a home run, as George Piccirilli went deep in the third inning. The win was VMI’s fifth in its past six games.

After VMI’s three-run rally in the second inning, YSU got a run back in the third. Phil Lipari walked to lead off the inning, and moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt. Jason Shirley then hit a high hopper to first that was fielded cleanly, but Henkel, who was covering the bag, dropped the toss for an error, allowing Lipari to score and make it a 3-1 game.

The Keydets added a run in the bottom half on Piccirilli’s home run to left field, his first long ball of the season, and tacked on two more in the fourth. Dwyer started the rally with his second hit of the day and then stole second. After Matt Winn dropped down a sacrifice bunt, LeClair looped a hit down the left field line and legged out a double, scoring Dwyer.

With two strikes on the next hitter, Jacob Morley, LeClair broke for third base. YSU catcher Jake Kucek threw the ball into left field, allowing LeClair to score and extend the Keydet lead to 6-1.

YSU’s Drew Dosch doubled home a run in the fifth, but the Keydets broke the game open in the sixth. Reliever Ryan Krokos entered, and Matt Winn greeted him with a bad-hop single to shortstop. After a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch, Morley doubled to score Winn. The next three batters then walked, a run during which 11 of 12 pitches were balls. The last of the walks came to Michael Donovan, and that scored a run to make it an 8-2 game.

With that, the visitors went to their pen again, and after a wild pitch scored the ninth Keydet run, Worthington became the fourth consecutive hitter to draw a walk. Dickinson then followed with a two-run single, pushing the VMI lead to 11-2 and capping the Keydet scoring. The Penguins scored once in the seventh on a Jeremy Banks RBI double.

Dickinson, who had entered just 4 for 24 on the year, raised his average 92 points with the 3 for 3 day. Dwyer chipped in two hits as well, in addition to LeClair’s two-hit effort out of the leadoff spot. Piccirilli’s home run extended his  hitting streak to 10 games.

For YSU, DH Weston Weiss led the way offensively, going 2 for 4 in his first start of the season.

VMI baseball will return to action Sunday, playing host to Youngstown State in the finale of the series. Game time is set for 2 p.m. The Keydets will be looking for their second straight weekend sweep, which would be the first time the team had accomplished that feat since April 2-11, 2010.

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