VMI wins opener with Binghamton, 3-2
Cody Holder drove in two runs, including a go-ahead solo home run in the eighth inning, to help the VMI Keydets defeat the Binghamton Bearcats in the opener of a four-game series Friday at Gray-Minor Stadium in Lexington, Va.
After getting a run home with a push bunt in the sixth, Holder stepped up in a 2-2 game against BU (2-3) left-hander Mike Kaufman and drilled a 1-2 pitch over the left-center field wall for his first home run of the season. John Garrett made the lead stand up in the ninth, allowing only a one-out single, as VMI’s first home run as a team this season proved to be the difference.
The contest was a pitchers’ duel throughout, as although the squads combined for 16 hits, there were just two extra-base hits among them – a Binghamton double and Holder’s home run. Neither starter figured in the decision, despite both pitching extremely well. Jake Lambert held VMI hitless into the fifth inning, and finished up with six innings, four hits and two runs allowed. Reed Garrett surrendered two runs on eight hits over seven innings, striking out five and walking none.
John Garrett (1-0) picked up the win for VMI after entering in the eighth, as he allowed only the ninth-inning single, while Kaufman (0-1) took the loss despite allowing only two hits over two relief innings and striking out three.
Binghamton jumped ahead in the first inning Friday, with both teams fighting breezy, cold conditions that saw temperatures fall well into the 30’s by game’s end. Mike Danaher led off with a single against Reed Garrett, and advanced to second on a swinging bunt by Bill Bereszniewicz. Danaher then went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Jake Thomas’ double, putting the Bearcats up, 1-0.
The Keydets wasted a golden opportunity in the fourth after Holder bounced into a 4-6-3 double play with the bases loaded, but VMI did strike in the fifth. Brandon Angus had a one-out single to break up Lambert’s no-hitter, and promptly stole second. Matt Winn flied to center, and Drew Bryan followed with a line drive single to right, tying the game at 1.
The visitors came right back in the sixth, when Reed Garrett hit the first two batters of the inning. Daniel Nevares then hit a ground ball up the middle that Nick Dwyer fielded behind the second base bag, but could not come up with cleanly. All the runners were safe on the error. Jordon Smucker followed with a RBI single to right, but Angus, helped by Winn’s block of the front portion of home, threw out Brian Ruby trying to score. That play helped limit Binghamton to just a run in the inning, and VMI tied it in the bottom half.
Rob Dickinson singled with one out in the Keydet sixth, and Dwyer followed with a hit and run single, putting runners at the corners with one out. Holder then dropped down a bunt on the first pitch, pushing the ball down the first base line to allow Dickinson to score and tie the game, 2-2.
The Keydets put two on with one out in the seventh, but could not score, and BU did the same in the eighth. Dickinson and Dwyer were retired to start the ninth, setting the stage for Holder’s decisive home run.
Offensively, the Keydets were led by Holder’s two-RBI effort and Bryan’s 2 for 3 day. The Bearcats saw Thomas go 3 for 3 with a RBI and a run scored.
“I thought both starting pitchers threw the ball very well today,” said VMI head coach Marlin Ikenberry. “Cody Holder did a great job, with the push bunt in the sixth and, of course, the big home run in the eighth, and Drew Bryan’s two-out RBI hit was clutch as well. Drew did a great job to come through in that situation. We knew Binghamton had a solid team, and I was proud of the way our team competed throughout the whole game. This was a very well-played baseball game.”
VMI baseball is back in action Saturday, continuing the series with Binghamton at Gray-Minor Stadium. The Keydets and Bearcats will play a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.