ELON, N.C. - The Elon Phoenix posted a season-high 14 hits, including a pair of home runs, en route to an 8-3 win over the VMI Keydets in non-conference baseball action Sunday in Elon, N.C. With the victory, Elon won the series two games to one.
Sunday's game was a well-played, 2-0 pitchers' duel into the fifth, when a single dropped between a hustling VMI second baseman Michael Diodato and right fielder Tyler Tharp. The no man's land hit cost the Keydets (8-10), as James Venuto hit a two-out, two-run homer later in the inning to push the Elon (9-11) lead to four.
The Keydets got a run back in the sixth when Jacob Jaye homered, but VMI left the bases loaded in the frame and the home team pulled away with three runs in the bottom of the inning en route to the victory.
The starters got the decisions, as Brandon Barbery (0-3) took the loss after giving up five runs - all earned - in 5 1/3 innings. Barbery was victimized by the Keydets' failing to turn a pair of double plays in the third as well as the no man's land hit in the fifth, both of which opened the door to run-scoring innings.
Kyle Brnovich (1-2) struck out nine in six innings of one-run baseball to earn the victory and George Kirby finished the game to pick up a three-inning save, his first of the year.
Elon jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third, when the Keydets were unable to complete the double play pivot in time on back to back 5-4 fielder's choice ground balls. That left a runner on first with two outs, and after a Kyle Jackson double, Venuto singled home two runs for a 2-0 Phoenix lead.
After the home runs by Venuto and Jaye made it a 4-1 game, Elon added on with three runs in the sixth and another in the seventh against the Keydet bullpen. Matt Pita launched a two-run home run in the eighth to pull VMI within 8-3, but the Keydets could get no closer.
Offensively, the Keydets were led by a 3 for 4, two-RBI day for Pita, while Peyton Maddox and Jaye also chipped in two hits apiece. Venuto drove in four runs and Ryne Ogren had three hits to lead Elon.
VMI coach Jonathan Hadra was ejected in the fourth inning, the first ejection of his head coaching career. Associate head coach Travis Beazley served as acting head coach for the remainder of the contest.
VMI baseball will return to action Tuesday, when the Keydets play host to Richmond at Gray-Minor Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the game will be streamed live on the SoCon Digital Network.