ODU rallies in extras to knock off VMI

Jacob Morley went 4 for 6 with two home runs and five RBI, but the Old Dominion Monarchs rallied from deficits of 5-0 and 12-10 to defeat the VMI Keydets, 13-12, in 10 innings Tuesday at Bud Matheny Baseball Complex in Norfolk, Va.

After VMI (6-8) jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, Old Dominion (5-10) scored three times in the third, all on a home run by Josh Wright. Morley hit a two-run shot in the fourth, pushing the lead back to four, but the Monarchs scored seven times in the fourth to take a 10-7 lead. Five of the seven runs in the innings were unearned.

The Keydets then got two more runs back in the fifth, before the teams matched zeros until the eighth. VMI struck for three runs in that inning, with the big blow being another Morley home run, but ODU answered with two in the bottom half to knot the score, 12-12. The contest then went to extra innings, and after VMI went in order in its half, ODU’s Wright walked with two outs in the bottom half against reliever Alan Watts (1-2). He then stole second, and the next batter was intentionally walked. Backup catcher Michael Perez, who entered the game hitting .087, bounced a single through the left side, and Wright’s slide at home beat the throw to the plate, giving ODU the victory.

Morley’s career effort came on his birthday, as he posted the first multi-homer game of his career. The senior needed just a double for the cycle after his first three at-bats, but his final three tries ended in a strikeout, his second home run and another strikeout. Regardless, the effort led an 18-hit attack, a total that marked a season-high for the Keydets.

Watts took the loss for the Keydets, as he surrendered Wright’s run in the 10th. Overall, he allowed five hits in 2 1/3 innings, while Brandon Smith (3-0) earned the win for ODU, giving up one hit in 2 2/3 scoreless innings.

VMI jumped out to a 2-0 lead just five batters into the game, as Gary LeClair led off the game with a hustling double. Two batters later, he scored on Morley’s single to put the Keydets on the board. Michael Donovan then plated Andrew Montague with a single, putting the Keydets up 2-0 after half an inning.

That lead grew to 3-0 in the second, as Brandon Diamond led off with a double and scored on George Piccirilli’s two-out RBI double. ODU then threatened in its half, putting runners at second and third with no outs, but Garrett emerged unscathed. The freshman induced a fielder’s choice at home for the first out, and then got a line drive right at Donovan, who fielded the ball moving toward second base. The freshmen then dove, glove outstretched, and his glove beat the runner back to the bag, resulting in a double play and ending the inning.

The Keydets pushed the margin to five in the third, as Morley led off with a triple and scored on Donovan’s RBI single. Two batters later, Diamond doubled once again, scoring Donovan and making it 5-0, VMI.

ODU cut it to 5-3 in the third on Wright’s homer, but Morley answered with a long ball of his own, blasting a home run to straightaway center field with two outs in the fourth, putting VMI up 7-3.

John Garrett relieved to start the fourth inning, and Joey Burney homered as the first batter to face him, cutting the lead to 7-4. In fact, the first three batters reached against John Garrett, and the fourth had a sacrifice fly to make it a two-run game, 7-5. The junior then settled down and induced a potential double play ground ball that could have ended the inning, but the ball was misplayed by Donovan for an error, extending the frame.

The next batter hit a chopper to third base for another possible double play, but Chase Worthington’s throw hit off the web of Donovan’s glove for a second error, and the next batter, Chris Baker, hit a grand slam to right field to put ODU up, 10-7.  Only two runs in the inning, those that came before the errors, were earned.

The Keydets came right back in the fifth, and mounted a two-out rally to do so. After the first two batters were retired, Diamond doubled yet again and scored on Nick Dwyer’s single. Dwyer then stole second and scored on LeClair’s RBI single, making it 10-9, ODU. LeClair followed by stealing second, and Piccirilli was hit by a pitch, but Andrew Montague then flew out to right, ending the inning.

Meanwhile, John Garrett settled down and retired eight in a row at one point, as the teams matched zeros until the Keydet eighth. Piccirilli led off with a single, but was forced out when Montague’s sacrifice bunt attempt resulted in an out at second base. The next batter, Morley, blasted his second home run of the day, this one to left field, and the Keydets had an 11-10 lead. Rob Dickinson singled with two outs in the inning to drive home another run, making it 12-10, VMI.

ODU responded in its half, as two of the first three hitters walked against Travis Thomas. That brought on Watts, who struck out the first hitter, but then gave up back to back RBI singles to Wright and Baker to tie the game, 12-12. Neither team could score in the ninth, and the contest headed to extra innings, setting the stage for ODU’s victory.

In addition to Morley’s efforts, Diamond had three doubles in his second career start, Donovan went 4 for 6 at the plate and Piccirilli added four hits of his own. Wright and Baker drove in five runs apiece for ODU, while Burney had four hits in five trips to the plate.

Neither starter figured in the decision, as Reed Garrett pitched three innings in his return from injury, allowing three runs on three hits, while Kevin Griffey left after two frames and was charged with three runs.

VMI baseball will return to action Wednesday, taking on Old Dominion once again. The contest will be held at War Memorial Stadium in Hampton, Va., and game time is set for 6 p.m.


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