VMI Baseball: Keydets defeat St. Joe’s 9-3 to open 2019 season

vmi baseballSenior first-baseman Jake Huggins had three hits and three RBI Friday as the VMI baseball team opened the 2019 season with a 9-3 victory over St. Joe’s University in a contest played at UNC-Wilmington (UNCW).

VMI got on the scoreboard first in the third inning. Michael Diodato reached on an error and Ryan Smoot followed with a walk. Josh Hollifeld brought Diodato home with an RBI groundout for the Keydets’ first run of the season. Jake Huggins tripled and Nathan Loyd singled to make the score 3-0. Ryan Smoot grounded out in the fourth to bring home Cody Warner and give the Keydets a 4-0 lead.

Following a St. Joe’s run in the top of the fifth, VMI struck again in the bottom portion of the frame on Warner two-run double. The teams each scored twice in the sixth, as Nuccio delivered an RBI double and Huggins pushed the lead to 8-3 on a single. The Keydets scored another insurance run in the eighth.

Huggins, a pre-season second-team All-Southern Conference selection, finished the day 3-5 with two runs scored and three RBI. Loyd had two hits and two walks and Smoot walked three times as the Keydets drew eight walks total.

Junior Jacob Menders got the start on the mound in the season opener and worked out of trouble to allow no runs in his three innings. Jon Clines struck out six in four innings of relief and allowed three runs to pick up the win. Matt Keane came on in the eighth and Michael Geary worked the ninth, both tossing scoreless innings.

Brandon Hueth and James McConnon, the Hawks first two batters in the order, each had three hits.

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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.
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