Augusta Free Press

VMI falls to ETSU in series opener, 7-5

Hagen Owenby hit a two-run homer three batters into the game to give the ETSU Bucs a lead they would not surrender, on the way to a 7-5 win over the VMI Keydets in SoCon baseball action Thursday in Lexington, Va.

In a crucial series with SoCon Tournament seeding on the line, ETSU (25-27, 7-15) jumped on Josh Winder early. Chris Cook singled up the middle to start the ballgame and one batter later, Owenby hit his 11th homer of the year for a 2-0 lead.

The Bucs scored two in the third and three in the fourth to knock the Keydet ace Winder from the game, but VMI (22-30, 7-15) staged a valiant rally. The Keydets scored the final five runs of the game, including a two-run homer by Collin Fleischer in the ninth, but could get no closer as the Bucs held on.

On the mound, Winder (6-6) took the loss after struggling through the second-shortest outing of his career. He gave up seven runs in four innings, although with those four frames, he did set a new school record for innings pitched in a season. The winning pitcher was Drew Korzybski (3-4), who allowed one run in 3 2/3 relief innings.

After ETSU scored early, the Bucs added two runs in the third on a single by Cook and a double by Aaron Maher. A three-spot in the fourth would cap the ETSU scoring, as the Keydet bullpen held the visitors off the board for the final five innings, and VMI’s offense started to rally in the fourth.

Matt Dunlevy had a bases-loaded walk to plate a run, and in the fifth, the Keydets scored on a catcher’s interference to make it 7-2. In perhaps the key stat of the game, however, VMI left the bases loaded in both of those innings.

The Keydets did tack on one more in the sixth, but were unable to take advantage of leadoff walks in the seventh and eighth. In the ninth, trailing 7-3, Fleischer hit a two-out homer to center field to cut the margin in half, but reliever Logan Gentry struck out Dunlevy to end the game.

Offensively, ETSU got three-hit games from Cook, Owenby and Hunter Parker, while Pita led VMI with two hits. Fleischer’s ninth-inning homer moved him into sole possession of fourth place on the all-time VMI listing, and with his 14 long balls this year, he is one of only two players with two of VMI’s top-five single season efforts in that statistic.

VMI and ETSU resume their series Friday at 1 p.m., in a game that was moved up due to a forecast of rain.