VMI takes opener with Youngstown State, 9-4
Jacob Morley had three hits, including a tie-breaking single in the fifth, and Andrew Montague homered to lead the VMI Keydets past the Youngstown State Penguins, 9-4, in non-conference baseball action Friday at Gray-Minor Stadium.
With the teams locked in a 3-3, fifth-inning tie, Matt Winn reached on an error with one out. Gary LeClair then doubled down the left field line, advancing Winn to third, and Morley followed with a two-run single to right center, putting VMI ahead for good.
The Keydets (5-7) would add four additional runs, one more in the fifth, one in the sixth and two in the eighth, to help make a winner of Coby Cowgill (3-0) and give John Garrett his first save of the year.
Cowgill went five innings, allowing three runs, while Garrett closed out the game by scattering five hits over four frames, allowing just a ninth-inning run to the Penguins (0-11). Blake Aquadro (0-3) took the loss for YSU, allowing seven runs (five earned) over six innings.
With the win, VMI goes to 5-0 on the year when scoring at least six runs, and also remains unbeaten in games in which they have homered, moving to 4-0 in that situation.
The visiting Penguins jumped ahead 2-0 in the first, as with one out, Jason Shirley singled up the middle. Jeremy Banks then launched a towering, opposite field home run to left, his third of the year, to give YSU the early 2-0 lead.
The Keydets answered with three runs in the third, as Drew Bryan was hit by a pitch to start the frame. After a sacrifice bunt, LeClair had a RBI single to right center, scoring Bryan, and the freshman moved up on a fielding error. One out later, Montague homered over the scoreboard in left, his first long ball of the year, putting VMI up by a 3-2 count.
YSU tied the game in the fifth, as Banks doubled down the right field line to score Shirley, who had singled to lead off the inning. VMI then rallied back with Morley’s two-run single in the bottom half, and George Piccirilli followed with a sacrifice fly to make it a 6-3 game.
The Keydets added a run in the sixth, as Winn plated Chase Worthington with a RBI single, and had an extended rally in the eighth. The first two batters reached, and after a double steal and a strikeout, Winn drove home one run with another RBI single. The VMI catcher had entered the game in a slump, hitting just 1 for his past 20.
One batter later, Morley lined a single to center, scoring Michael Donovan to push the VMI lead to 9-3 and cap the home team’s scoring. YSU scratched across a run in the ninth, but could get no closer as Garrett struck out Jack Graham looking with two runners on to end the ballgame.
In addition to Morley’s 3 for 5 night, both LeClair and Montague went 2 for 5, as the top three hitters for VMI combined to go 7 for 15 with seven RBI. With a second-inning infield hit, Piccirilli extended his hitting streak to nine games, a Keydet season high.
Offensively for the visitors, Banks went 3 for 5, falling a triple shy of the cycle, while Shirley and shortstop Phil Lipari had two hits apiece.
VMI baseball will return to action Saturday, playing host to Youngstown State in game two of the series. Game time is set for 2 p.m.