VMI Keydets drop extra-inning heartbreaker to Radford, 8-6

vmi baseballA two-out infield single by Richard De La Cruz broke a 6-6 tie in the 11th inning and sent the Radford Highlanders to an 8-6 victory over the VMI Keydets Tuesday in Lexington, Va.

Matt Roth opened the Radford (10-13) 11th with an infield hit, and pinch-hitter Adam Whitacre bunted him to second for RU’s fifth sacrifice bunt of the game. Will Harless grounded out, but Derek Tremblay hit Garrett Matheny to bring up De La Cruz, who hit a slow bounder directly up the middle.

Michael Diodato, shaded toward first base, got to the ball and made a desperation throw, but De La Cruz beat the play for a RBI single. Diodato’s throw got away, allowing the second RU run to cross the plate and ending the scoring.

VMI (10-12) brought the winning run to the plate twice in the bottom of the 11th, but Colby Higgerson got Jacob Jaye to pop out and Peyton Maddox to ground out to end the game that lasted four hours, 18 minutes.

Both teams dug deep into their bullpens in the marathon staff day, but it was Andrew Nardi (2-2) who got the win after evading a bases-loaded, none out jam in the top of the 11th. Tremblay (1-1) took the loss, and Higgerson was credited with his second save.

Radford took a 2-0 lead and a one-hitter into the sixth on the gray, gloomy day, but Matt Pita singled with one out. One out later, he stole second and third and scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-1, RU.

The visitors got that run back in the seventh, but VMI tied it in the bottom of the frame. Will Malbon led off with a triple and scored on Jake Huggins’ groundout, and VMI knotted the score at 3 when Jordan Ebersole scored on a failed pickoff attempt by the RU pitcher.

The back and forth continued, as RU tacked on three runs in the eighth and seemed to be in position to put the game away, but Nathan Eaton was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the frame. Pita and Jaye then launched back to back homers, tying the score again, this time at 6.

RU threatened in the ninth, but Eaton moved to pitcher and induced a foulout and popout with the go-ahead run at second base. He got the final two outs of the 10th with a runner in scoring position as well, and the Keydets had a golden chance in the bottom of the frame. Jaye led off with a triple against reliever Nardi. Both Maddox and Malbon were intentionally walked, setting up a force at any base, and Nardi struck out Huggins. Matt Dunlevy then hit a hard liner to left, but right to Matheny, costing Jaye any opportunity to score, and Collin Fleischer hit into a force play to end the inning and set the stage for RU’s winning rally.

Offensively, Pita and Jaye led the Keydets with two hits each, while three different RU players had multi-hit games for the visitors.

VMI baseball is scheduled to return to action Wednesday against James Madison in a home contest. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.


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