VMI baseball will open the 2017 SoCon Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases Tuesday, when the ninth-seeded Keydets face the eighth-seeded Bulldogs from The Citadel in the first round, single-elimination game. First pitch at Fluor Field at the West End in Greenville, S.C. is set for 10 a.m.
Fans can follow along with the action in a number of ways. The game can be seen on the SoCon Digital Network, and an audio broadcast can be heard on VMIKeydets.com and, in the Lexington area, on AM 1450 WREL. Live stats will also be available.
Probable Starting Pitchers
The Citadel LHP JP Sears vs. VMI RHP Josh Winder
The winner of this game will play top-seeded Mercer Wednesday at 12:30 p.m., while the loser will be eliminated.
First Words – Game Notes
If the teams start their aces, it will be the third time JP Sears and Josh Winder have faced off over the last calendar year. The two battled in last year’s tournament first round game, with Winder striking out 10 and taking a 2-1 lead into the ninth, only to see the Bulldogs rally to tie the game and win it in the 10th. The Keydet right-hander then struck out 14 in a game against Sears this past March, but Sears struck out 20 Keydets and Jonathan Sabo hit a pair of homers off Winder in a Citadel win.
Speaking of Winder, he enters the tournament just one out from becoming the first pitcher in school history to pitch 100 innings in a single season. He is also just five strikeouts away from setting a single-season record in that statistic as well.
Tyler Tharp moved into a tie for 10th on VMI’s single-season hits listing Saturday against ETSU, and he enters this tournament two bases away from tying Cory Spangenberg’s record for single-season total bases (140, set in 2010).
Tharp enters the tournament with a team-high 12-game hitting streak, the longest by a Keydet this season.
In one final note on Tharp, he enters the tournament with 25 multi-hit games, the most by a VMI player since Rob Dickinson had 27 in 2013. Dickinson was named Big South Player of the Year that season.
The Keydets will be looking to end an unfortunate streak on Tuesday – The Citadel has eliminated VMI in each of the past two seasons and has won seven of the eight postseason meetings between the schools.
With two wins in this tournament, Jonathan Hadra would tie Scott Gines for second-most postseason wins in school history (with three).
Next Time Out
The winner of Tuesday’s winner-take-all game advances to the main, double-elimination draw to take on the top-seeded Mercer Bears Wednesday at 12:30 p.m.