VMI splits doubleheader with UMass Lowell
On an unseasonably cold day in Lexington, Va., the VMI Keydets and UMass Lowell Riverhawks split a doubleheader in NCAA baseball action in Lexington, Va. UMass Lowell (5-8) took game one, 9-5, before VMI (8-6) rallied to take the nightcap and series finale, 6-3, on Will Malbon’s three-run homer in the sixth.
In game one, Russ Olive and Colby Maiola hit two homers apiece to propel UMass Lowell to a 9-5 win in the opener of the doubleheader. The two players combined for eight RBI, and struck early in the contest when Olive launched a three-run homer in the first off Keydet starter Zak Kent (2-2).
UML would lead from that point on, although the Keydets did score four unanswered runs in the middle innings to close the gap to 5-4. Peyton Maddox helped fuel a three-run sixth with a RBI double and Nathan Loyd, making his first career start, had a sacrifice fly, but the visitors answered with two runs in the seventh and it was back to 7-4, UML.
Matt Pita drove in a run in the seventh with a groundout, but Maiola capped the scoring with a two-run shot to right to account for the final margin.
Offensively, Maddox went 2 for 4 to lead the Keydets, while Olive was 4 for 5 with four RBI and three runs scored to power the visitors.
Kent dropped to 2-2 by taking the loss, as he allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out six. Andrew Ryan (1-1) gave up four runs in 5 1/3 frames and was the winner.
Pita went 0 for 4 and saw his hitting streak end at 22 consecutive games, the longest since such streaks began being kept at VMI (2005).
In the nightcap, Malbon hit a three-run, opposite field homer in the sixth, breaking a 3-3 tie and sending VMI to a 6-3 victory.
The teams were deadlocked at 3-3 when the Keydets rallied in the sixth. Maddox singled with one out and moved to second on a wild pitch. Matt Dunlevy walked and one out later, Malbon lofted a long drive to left that cleared the wall for his first homer of the year. Matt Eagle made the lead stand up with three scoreless innings for his second save of the year.
Jacob Jaye put the Keydets up 2-0 in the first with his second homer of the series, a two-run shot, but the visitors scored twice in the second.
With runners on second and third, Olive hit a bouncer to Jake Huggins at first. Huggins threw to second, attempting to get one of the lead runners edging off the base. Both runners attempted to move up at that point and Nathan Eaton threw home, but threw wildly for an error to allow a run to score. Maiola followed with a RBI groundout to tie the game, 2-2.
The teams then traded single runs, with VMI scoring in the third and UML doing so in the fourth, and remained tied until Malbon hit the tie-breaking blast.
Eagle then entered for the seventh and faced the minimum until the ninth, when Joey Castellanos greeted him with a hit. One out later, pinch-hitter Michael Young singled, bringing pinch-hitter Kyle Maurice up as the tying run. Eagle calmly coaxed a 4-6-3 double play to end the game and preserve the victory.
On the mound, Kyle Staats moved to 2-0 by not allowing an earned run in six strong innings. Staats walked only one and fanned five. Henry Funaro, the victim of Malbon’s homer, allowed only those three runs in five relief innings but dropped to 1-3 with the loss.
Maddox led VMI offensively with another 2 for 4 effort and went 4 for 8 while catching both ends of the doubleheader. Castellanos had the lone multi-hit game for the visitors, going 2 for 4.
VMI baseball will return to action Wednesday, when the Keydets travel to Norfolk to face the Old Dominion Monarchs at 6 p.m.