RADFORD, Va. - Will Connerley and Drew Bryan had three hits apiece and Jeremy Brown struck out nine over six innings to lead the VMI Keydets to a 10-4 win over the Radford Highlanders in the finale of a three-game Big South series Saturday in Radford, Va. The contest was also game two of a doubleheader after RU had won game one, 4-3 in 10 innings.
After RU (10-8. 2-1 Big South) had taken a 3-1 lead in the first inning, the Keydets (7-14, 1-2 BSC) went on to score seven unanswered runs over the next two frames to take a 8-3 lead. Connerley had hits in each of the first three innings after coming in hitting 2 for 18 on the season, while Berkley Hawkins added a two-run double in the third as well. Radford closed to within 8-4 in the fourth, but VMI broke the game open once again with a two-run rally in the seventh, sparked by a Bryan leadoff double and a RBI single by Rob Dickinson.
Despite surrendering three runs before he recorded an out, Brown wound up with a quality start, going six innings and surrendering three runs on eight hits. He struck out nine and did not walk a batter in moving to 2-0 on the year. Taylor Edens finished up with three hitless innings and also did not walk a hitter, as he picked up his first career save. Keith Fritz (1-2) was the losing pitcher, as he gave up eight runs, three earned, in two-plus frames.
After dropping game one of the doubleheader, the Keydets came out strong in the first. Connerley had a one-out single, and Dickinson followed with a single as well. Connerley then advanced to third on a passed ball, and Nick Dwyer got the redshirt sophomore home on a fielder's choice groundout, putting the Keydets up, 1-0.
Radford fired back in the bottom half, when Josh Gardiner led off with a single. Shane Johnsonbaugh hit a grounder on the infield that was thrown to second, but the toss was not in time to retire Gardiner and both runners were safe. Kemp followed with a 3-0 home run to right-center field, his fifth of the year, putting the home team up, 3-1.
VMI responded in the second, when Hawkins reached on an error with one out. He then moved up on a wild pitch and scored on a Bryan single, cutting the lead to one, and Jordan Tarsovich followed with a single. Connerley then lined a single to left, scoring Bryan and tying the game, 3-3.
The visitors exploded in the third, tallying five runs and knocking Fritz out of the game. Dwyer reached on a hit by pitch to start the inning, and Red Dowdell hit a ground ball that was booted by Gardiner at second base for an error, allowing both the runners to be safe. One batter later, with the bases loaded, Thomas Stallings walked to force in a run and give VMI a 4-3 lead. Hawkins followed with a line drive double down the right field line, scoring two more runs.
One out later, Tarsovich had a sacrifice fly to make it a 7-3 contest, and Connerley followed with a line drive double to left for another RBI and a 8-3 Keydet advantage. That knocked Fritz out of the ball game, and the RU bullpen settled things down until the seventh. Meanwhile, the Highlanders got a run back in the fourth after a Bryan error at second, cutting the Keydet advantage to 8-4.
VMI capped the scoring in the seventh against reliever Nygeal Andrews. Bryan led off with a rope down the left field line that went for a double, and Tarsovich was hit by a pitch. Connerley sacrificed both runners up a base, and Dickinson followed with an infield hit to score a run. Dwyer then lofted a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Tarsovich and accounting for the final margin, 10-4.
Edens then finished the contest by retiring all nine batters he faced over the final three innings.
In addition to Connerley and Bryan, the Keydets saw Dickinson and Hawkins post multi-hit games. Meanwhile, with his lone hit, Tarsovich extended his hitting streak to 11 games, a VMI season high for any player.
VMI baseball will return to action Tuesday, taking on Norfolk State at Gray-Minor Stadium. Game time is set for 4 p.m.