Augusta Free Press

VMI holds on for 7-6 win over JMU

The VMI Keydets jumped out to an early 6-2 lead and held on in dramatic fashion for a 7-6 win over the James Madison Dukes in non-conference action Tuesday in Lexington, Va.

A three-run homer by Collin Fleischer in the first inning staked Kyle Staats to an early 3-1 lead, and that margin grew to 6-2 after an inning, thanks to a three-run second inning that included Josh Hollifield’s second home run in the past four games.

JMU (24-24) scored four of the game’s final five runs and had the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position with two outs in the ninth, but freshman catcher Kyle Hayes – taking just his third at-bat of the season – grounded out to the mound as Derek Tremblay preserved the victory.

Offensively, the Keydets (22-29) saw Fleischer and Matt Pita post two hits apiece. Fleischer’s homer was his 13th of the year and 32nd of his career, tying him for fourth on the all-time VMI home run list. Kyle McPherson had three hits for the Dukes.

On the mound, Staats (2-0) picked up the win on a staff day. He allowed two runs on four hits in four innings in his first career start. Josh Silvestri (3-4) was tagged for six runs – five earned – in 1 1/3 frames and took the loss. Tremblay allowed a hit and a walk over 1 2/3 innings to record his first career save.

After the Keydets jumped out to the early lead, JMU started a rally in the fifth. An infield hit by Adam Sisk made it 6-3, and an error allowed a second run to score and put two on with two out. With the go-ahead run at the plate, Michael Geary relieved and struck out pinch-hitter Matt Dipasupil to end the threat.

VMI scored on a passed ball in the fifth to go ahead 7-4, and those were the final runs until the top of the eighth. A Ryan Lynch RBI single off Geary made it 7-5, and another run scored when a single by Brandon McKay got away from Pita in center field, allowing Lynch to come all the way around and make it a one-run game. Tremblay came in and hit pinch-hitter Harry Brown, but one out later, struck out McPherson to end the rally and set the stage for the ninth-inning drama.

VMI baseball returns to action for its final series of the regular season Thursday, when the Keydets open a three-game set against ETSU with tournament positioning on the line. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.