HIGH POINT, N.C. - Redshirt sophomore Jason Farley hurled eight innings, allowing just two runs on six hits in his longest career outing, to lead 30th-ranked VMI to a 5-2 win over High Point in Big South Conference action at Willard Stadium Saturday. VMI improves to 18-1 overall and 2-0 in the league with the win, while the Panthers fall to 12-6 on the year and 0-2 in Big South play with the loss.
While Farley (2-1) was shutting out the Panthers over the first seven innings, senior Jordan Ballard went 3 for 5 with two RBIs, two runs scored, a double and a home run. Alex Haitsuka was 3 for 4 with a double and a run scored, while fellow junior Graham Sullivan plated another run for the Keydets while going 2 for 4.
"I was really excited to see Jason Farley go deep into the game," said VMI head coach Marlin Ikenberry. "He pitched to contact, and we played defense behind him. Then Michael Devine came in and pitched well to pick up the save. I was glad to see us get the lead early, and then we extended it late. I was proud of Jordan Ballard's at bats tonight, and Alex Haitsuka did a nice job tonight too. All up and down our lineup, we had opportunities to score more runs and didn't."
Starter Brian Jones (0-1) took the loss for the Panthers, allowing three runs on 10 hits through six innings. Three HPU relievers worked an inning each, with Corey Swickle and Wes Torrez each allowing a run while Steven Schils worked a scoreless ninth.
VMI took a 2-0 lead in the second on RBI doubles from Ballard and Ombri Rivers. The Keydets tacked on another in the third, when Cory Spangenberg scored on Sullivan's knock up the middle. Jones settled in to shut out the Keydets over the next three innings, until Ballard's two-out, solo home run to center field against Swickle in the seventh.
Farley, meanwhile, retired nine straight batters after Andrew Bartlett's leadoff triple in the fifth, leaving him stranded by inducing three straight ground outs. The Panthers finally scratched together a rally in the eighth, loading the bases with one out before Farley hit Steve Antolik to drive in a run. Max Fulginiti followed with a sacrifice fly, and Farley ended the inning by getting Zach Tessier to fly out to center field.
The Keydets tacked on an unearned run in the eighth when Haitsuka scored on an error by Bartlett, as he fielded a throw on Jacob Morley's sacrifice bunt.
Leading 5-2 in the ninth, Michael Devine needed just nine pitches to retire all three batters he faced, working a 1-2-3 ninth to collect his third save of the year.
The Keydets and Panthers play game three at Willard Stadium on Sunday afternoon, with first pitch set for 1 p.m. Fans can listen to the game online at www.VMIKeydets.com or watch the contest on the Big South Network at www.BigSouthSports.com.
Keydet Quick Hits
- VMI second baseman Cory Spangenberg extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a first-inning single, marking the longest such streak since Robert Crumpler had a 15-game streak in 2005.
- This series pits two of the top offenses in the nation, as HPU and VMI entered the day ranked seven and eighth nationally in runs per game. Through two games, VMI has scored just 10 runs while HPU has scored just six.
- The Keydets have hit home runs in 17 of 19 games this year.
- In the past seven games, VMI has allowed 18 runs, posting a 2.44 ERA with opponents hitting .225.
- Jordan Ballard moved into a tie for third on the VMI career home runs list with his 32nd career round-tripper Saturday.
- With their win on Saturday, the Keydets matched last year's win total of 18, doing so in 32 less games.