Western Carolina completes series sweep of VMI

vmi baseballThe Western Carolina Catamounts scored four runs in the fifth inning to take the lead for good and went on to a 10-5 win over the VMI Keydets, in the series finale between the clubs Saturday in Cullowhee, N.C. With the win, WCU (19-19, 10-5 SoCon) completed a series sweep.

Western held a 3-1 lead headed to the fifth, but the Keydets (17-23, 4-11) put three on the board in the top of the fifth on Jacob Jaye’s seventh home run of the season. That lead, however, was overcome as the home team scored four times in the bottom of the inning off Brandon Barbery to take a 7-4 lead. That three-run margin was as close as VMI got the rest of the way.

On the mound, Brendan Nail was the winning pitcher (4-6) as he allowed five runs in 6 1/3 innings. Nail walked three and struck out seven. Barbery (0-7) allowed seven runs – six earned – in five innings and took the loss, while B.J. Nobles picked up his third save with 2 2/3 scoreless innings.

After a tough 19-3 loss earlier in the day, the Keydets jumped on the board first on a Tyler Tharp solo home run in the second inning. WCU tied it in the bottom half, and took a 3-1 lead with two runs in the fourth.

The Keydets then retook the lead in the fifth, when Josh Hollifield – who was making his first start since March 22 – led off with a single. Mason Adamson was hit by a pitch, and after a fielder’s choice on a sacrifice bunt retired Hollifield, Jaye launched a 3-1 pitch over the wall in left center to put VMI up, 4-3.

That lead lasted four hitters, as the first batter of the Western Carolina fifth – Brett Pope – tied the game with a solo homer. Spencer Holcomb then hit a three-run shot later in the inning to give WCU the 7-4 lead.

That margin grew to 8-4 with a run in the sixth, and although VMI scored a single tally in the seventh, the Keydets got no closer as WCU wrapped up the scoring with two runs in the bottom of the seventh.

In addition to Hollifield’s return to the lineup, Jake Huggins started the series finale at first base and Collin Fleischer made his first start in the outfield since 2015.

VMI baseball will return to action Friday, when the Keydets travel to Radford to take on the Radford Highlanders. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m.

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