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Tech sends VMI to eighth straight defeat

Edited by Chris Graham

Buddy Sosnoskie and Tim Smalling each had a home run and two RBIs to lead #18 Virginia Tech to a 9-2 victory over VMI Tuesday evening at Gray-Minor Stadium. The win improves the Hokies to 29-14 on the season, while the Keydets fall to 29-13 with the setback.

Tech starter Joe Mantiply (3-1) picked up the win, allowing just one hit through the first three innings. Keydet starter Jeremy Brown (2-2) suffered the loss by allowing two runs, one earned, in 2.2 innings.

Buddy Sosnoskie and Smalling were among five Hokies with a pair of hits in the contest, joining Austin Wates, Ronnie Shaban and Lexington native, Tony Balisteri. The Keydets managed five hits, including a pinch-hit, two-run home run by freshman Rob Dickinson to account for both of the team’s runs.

“Walks killed us tonight,” said VMI head coach Marlin Ikenberry. “It seemed like all of the guys that we walked came around and scored. Then we made a couple of errors in the middle innings that led to unearned runs, and you can’t do that against a good ballclub.”

Brown stranded a pair of runners in the first inning, getting Shaban to strike out with runners at the corners. Brown continued to walk the tightrope in the second, leaving the bases loaded after Smalling’s solo home run to trail just 1-0 entering the third inning.

VMI could not escape the third unscathed, as Shaban drew a one-out walk and scored two batters later on a fielding error. Brown issued another walk, his third of the night, and was lifted for Coby Cowgill, who struck out Balisteri to strand two more Hokies on base.

Living dangerously finally bit the Keydets in the fourth, when a leadoff walk was followed by Buddy Sosnoskie’s shot, a two-run home run to right-center field. Another run scored later in the inning, when Michael Seaborn plated Wates with his knock into left field.

Trailing 5-0, VMI struck for two in the fifth, but missed opportunities for more. George Piccirilli reached on a one-out single and stole second base. Chase Worthington drew a free pass, as Dickinson entered to pinch-hit with right-handed reliever Marc Zecchino on the mound. Zecchino unleashed a ball in the dirt which both runners tried to advance on, but Anthony Sosnoskie gunned down Piccirilli at third base for the first out. Dickinson then slugged his home run to cut the margin to 5-2, before Sam Roberts followed with his lone hit of the night. But Roberts was also thrown out in a stolen base attempt, ending VMI’s best rally of the evening.

The Hokies got those two runs back immediately, as Wates walked then scored on Shaban’s left-center triple. Cowgill’s night was done with that, as Andrew Deal entered to retire the next two batters, with Smalling hitting a sacrifice fly to plate Shaban before Seaborn grounded out.

Deal was charged with two runs in the seventh, allowing a leadoff walk and a Balisteri single before giving way to VMI’s final reliever of the night, Ryan Barefoot. The redshirt sophomore allowed only one base hit in the final three innings, with that coming to the first batter he faced, Sean Ryan, who dropped down a bunt that traveled some 87 feet down the third-base line, straying no more than a foot from the line the entire way. That loaded the bases with no outs, and the Hokies scored runs on each of the next two plays, one on a dropped infield fly and the next on a groundout.

With the score at 9-2, VMI managed no base runners in the final three innings. Patrick Scoggin struck out three and allowed just one hit in his three scoreless innings and Brandon Fisher worked a 1-2-3 ninth to close out the game. On the other side, Barefoot worked three scoreless innings in his third appearance of the year, allowing just three Hokies to reach base.