Augusta Free Press

SoCon: VMI Keydets fall to top-seeded Mercer, 11-6

The top-seeded Mercer Bears jumped out to a 7-1 lead on the way to an 11-6 win over the ninth-seeded VMI Keydets, in game three of the SoCon Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C.

VMI (23-33) took an early 1-0 lead, but Mercer (39-15) jumped on Keydet starter Matt Eagle quickly in the bottom of the first. The Bears scored five runs before an out was recorded, sparked by a Charlie Madden grand slam, and went on to notch two more in the second inning. VMI got back within three runs at 7-4, but Mercer was able to pull back away on the way to the win.

Offensively, Tyler Tharp had a three-hit game to lead VMI and break the school record for total bases in a single season. Tharp broke Cory Spangenberg’s 140-total base mark that had been sit in 2010.

Madden and JT Thomas had three hits and four RBI apiece to lead the top-seeded Bears.

VMI scored in the first, when Tharp drove in Matt Pita with a RBI single to make it 1-0. Mercer scored the next seven runs, however, and took a 7-1 to the third, when VMI started to peck away.

Peyton Maddox plated a run in that frame with a RBI double, his 16th of the year, and in the fourth, Matt Dunlevy hit a two-run homer to make it 7-4. One out after Dunlevy’s homer, Michael Diodato walked. That put the tying run in the on-deck circle, but Jacob Jaye bounced into a double-play to end the inning.

The Bears then added on in the fifth, with a solo homer by Ryan Hagan and Thomas’ RBI double, and tacked on another in the sixth to increase the margin to 10-4. The Keydets scored two runs in the eighth, but Mercer closer Nick Spear entered and struck out three of VMI’s final five hitters to preserve the win.

An eighth-inning sacrifice fly by the Bears’ Jackson Ware capped the scoring.

On the mound, Eagle (4-4) took the loss after allowing seven of Mercer’s 11 runs. He walked two and gave up six hits in 1 1/3 innings. Austin Cox (4-2) pitched five innings and allowed four runs in a winning effort.

VMI and fifth-seeded Wofford will play an elimination game at 12:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

Team of Destiny: Inside UVA Basketball's improbable run

Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.