VMI tops The Citadel in extras, 4-1

vmiA two-run double by freshman Michael Diodato broke a 1-1 tie and sent the VMI Keydets to a 4-1, 12-inning victory over The Citadel Bulldogs in SoCon baseball action Saturday in Charleston, S.C.

VMI’s Ryan Bennett had pitched out of two bases-loaded jams in the past three innings entering the 12th, and the Keydets (10-12, 1-1 SoCon) took advantage in that frame. Mason Adamson, who was making his first career start in left field, walked with one out and Ryan Smoot followed with a single.

Citadel’s (8-15, 1-1) Thomas Byelick recovered to strike out Jordan Ebersole, but Diodato doubled to right center on a 0-2 pitch to score two runs and give the Keydets the lead for good. He would score on a throwing error later in the innings to account for the final margin.

Bennett (2-0) picked up the victory with his four innings of work. He stranded eight runners in those innings, as he walked three and allowed two hits, but was helped by his six strikeouts. In seven games this year, Bennett has two victories, more than the redshirt senior had in his entire Keydet career entering the season. Adamson struck out the side around two walks in the ninth for his third save, and Byelick (0-2) was the losing pitcher.

The Keydets struck first, as Peyton Maddox and Jake Huggins had back to back doubles in the second inning to put VMI up, 1-0. The run broke a streak of 22 consecutive scoreless innings by the VMI offense.

The Citadel countered in the third, but Matt Eagle pitched out of a bases loaded, one out situation as the Bulldogs left the bases loaded. That was the first of four times that the home team left the bases loaded in the game.

VMI, meanwhile, could not take advantage of a one-out double by Smoot in the fifth, and the Keydets also left two on in the ninth. Bennett then left runners stranded in scoring position all four of his innings of work, allowing Diodato to deliver the big hit offensively.

Neither starter figured in the decision, as Eagle was removed in the fourth inning after giving up four hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings. Citadel starter Will Abbott held the Keydets to four hits and one run over six innings.

Offensively, Diodato led the Keydets with his 2 for 5, two RBI day, while Clay Martin reached base five times in six plate appearances to pace the Bulldogs. The Citadel stranded 19 runners on base in the game.

VMI baseball will wrap up its series with The Citadel Sunday at 1 p.m.

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