VMI baseball drops series finale to Youngstown State

Jeremy Banks hit two home runs, including a tie-breaking three-run shot in the eighth inning, helping the Youngstown State Penguins defeat the VMI Keydets, 10-2, Sunday afternoon at Gray-Minor Stadium.

After Banks’ first inning home run, the combination of starter Jeremy Brown and reliever Travis Thomas had kept the Penguins (1-12) off the scoreboard into the eighth, and VMI had a slim 2-1 lead. The first two batters of the eighth reached against Thomas, and the Keydets (6-8) summoned Michael Devine to face Banks. The first baseman hit a 1-1 pitch over the left field wall, giving YSU a lead that it would not relinquish. The two long balls gave Banks three on the weekend, five on the season and raised his average to .481 over the Penguins’ 13 2012 contests.

Nic Manuppelli (1-1) got the win in relief for Youngstown State, as he pitched three innings and allowed only one hit. Thomas (0-2) took the loss for VMI, as he was charged with the initial eighth-inning runs.

Banks got YSU on the board first, homering in the opening inning for the second time in the series. The Keydets struck for two runs in the third, as Nick Dwyer pulled a double down the left field line, and Gary LeClair followed with one of his own to plate his classmate and tie the game, 1-1. After a sacrifice bunt, Andrew Montague plated LeClair with a RBI groundout, giving the Keydets a 2-1 lead.

From there, both starters – YSU’s Pat Shedlock and VMI’s Jeremy Brown – settled in and matched zeros. The Keydets had two baserunners in the fifth inning, but neither could reach second base due to a caught stealing. Brown exited after five innings, giving up just one run on four hits, while Shedlock was gone after six, scattering four hits and allowing two runs.

Neither squad had a runner reach second base again until the seventh, when YSU’s David Leon singled with one out. After a fly out, Leon moved to second on a wild pitch, but Thomas retired Phil Lipari to end the frame and preserve the Keydet lead. VMI threatened in its half of the seventh, as Brandon Diamond posted his first collegiate hit, a ringing double to center. He was stranded, however, when Manuppelli retired Dwyer and LeClair to end the threat.

YSU then struck in the eighth, as Jason Shirley singled and Drew Dosch walked in front of the Banks home run. Two batters later, Marcus Heath doubled home a run and after a fly out, Kevin Hix singled home Heath for the inning’s fifth run, and a 6-2 advantage for the visitors. The Penguins would add four additional runs in the ninth to account for the final margin.

Five YSU hitters posted two hits apiece, led by Banks’ two home run, four RBI effort. The Keydets got a 2 for 3 effort from Jacob Morley, but George Piccirilli’s hitting streak came to an end at 10 games.

VMI baseball will return to action Tuesday, as the Keydets face Old Dominion in Norfolk. Game time is set for 3 p.m.


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