Triple play helps UNCG hold off VMI Keydets, 8-5

The UNCG Spartans turned a rare triple play to kill a crucial rally by the VMI Keydets in the sixth inning and went on to an 8-5 win in SoCon baseball action Sunday in Lexington, Va.

vmi baseballThe Keydets (20-27, 6-12 SoCon), who had already won the series with a win Saturday, trailed 6-4 when they came to bat in the sixth. A RBI single by Matt Dunlevy put scored Matt Pita, cutting the lead to one and putting runners at the corners with Josh Hollifield coming up.

Hollifield hit a ground ball to third base and UNCG (28-18, 11-7) turned it around the horn, 5-4-3. Jake Huggins, the runner on third broke late for the plate, and first baseman Michael Goss threw home in time to complete the 5-4-3-2 triple play and end the rally. The Keydets got just one runner into scoring position the rest of the way, and UNCG added single runs in the eighth and ninth to account for the final margin.

The starters got the decisions, as Zak Kent (2-4) took the loss for the Keydets and Dan Loats (5-2) was the winner. Loats allowed five runs in five-plus innings, while Kent gave up six tallies in 5 1/3 frames. The UNCG bullpen, which surrendered the lead in Saturday’s game, pitched four two-hit, shutout innings, with Alex Sova firing the final two frames for his first save.

UNCG jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on a three-run blast by Michael Goss, but the Keydets fired back in the second when Tyler Tharp hit a solo homer, his fourth long ball of the weekend.

The visitors answered with a run in the third, but VMI scored the next three runs – including a two-run home run by Collin Fleischer in the fifth – to tie the score at 4-all headed to the sixth.

There, the Spartans took the lead for good. A sacrifice fly by Ben Spitznagel and a RBI single by Tripp Shelton made it a 6-4 game, and set the stage for the late innings.

Offensively, the Keydets were led by Matt Pita and Dunlevy, who had two hits apiece. Dunlevy extended his streak of multi-hit games to seven in a row, while Fleischer’s fifth-inning home run moved him into a four-way tie for fifth place in school history (31).

Prior to the game, VMI’s five seniors – plus student assistant coach Dallas Wood – were honored in a pre-game ceremony.

VMI baseball returns to action Friday, when the Keydets open a three-game series at Furman in Greenville, S.C. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.

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