LEXINGTON, Va. – Andrew Rash had a two-run, go-ahead triple in the eighth inning, part of his 2 for 4, four RBI game, to lead the Virginia Tech Hokies to a 9-6 win over the VMI Keydets in non-conference baseball action Tuesday in Lexington, Va. Virginia Tech’s win gave the Hokies a split of the season series between the clubs, as the Keydets were bidding for their first season sweep in the series since 1962.
With the score knotted at five, Tech’s (25-17) Tyler Horan doubled off VMI’s (18-26) Campbell Henkel with one out in the eighth. Andrew Montague relieved, but threw a wild pitch to allow Horan to move up a base. Mark Zagunis then walked and Rash hit a 1-2 pitch down the left-field line for the deciding three-base hit. The Hokies added a run in the inning on a second wild pitch and then tacked on a ninth-inning tally on a passed ball, making it a 9-5 game before the Keydets’ Red Dowdell doubled home a run in the ninth to account for the final margin.
On the mound, Henkel took the loss to drop to 1-5 on the year. He was charged with two runs on three hits in two innings. Jake Joyce moved to 6-1 for the visiting Hokies by allowing just an unearned run in 4 2/3 frames, while Brendon Hayden pitched the final two innings for his first save.
Neither starter figured in the decision, after Tech’s Luis Collazo was knocked out in the second inning, having surrendered four runs, while VMI’s Taylor Edens allowed four runs in 5 1/3 frames in his first career start.
The Hokies jumped ahead early against Edens, when Sean Keselica had a one-out single. One out later, Horan doubled down the right field line and Zagunis followed with a home run to left, his sixth of the year to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.
Edens settled down and would allow just two hits in the remainder of his solid effort, and the Keydets got to Collazo in the bottom of the first. Jordan Tarsovich led off with a walk and one out later, stole second. Matt Winn then singled to left and Brandon Angus was hit by a pitch, loading the bases for Eric Mayers. Mayers hit a 3-2 pitch to the right of shortstop Alex Perez, who was screened by Winn’s movement toward third, allowing the hit to go for a two-run single that cut the visitors’ lead to 3-2.
VMI grabbed the advantage in the second, when Cameron Walter led off with an infield hit. One out later, Tarsovich singled up the middle and Will Connerley followed with a single of his own. Winn then laced a double to left center, scoring two runs to give the Keydets a 4-3 lead.
That margin held up until the sixth, when Keselica led off with a double against Edens. The Hokie first baseman advanced to third on a wild pitch, but Chad Pinder grounded back to the mound for the first out. Henkel relieved and struck out Horan, but Zagunis was hit by a pitch and Rash followed with a double, scoring two runs and giving the Hokies a 5-4 advantage.
The Keydets came right back in the bottom half, when Cody Holder reached on Pinder’s error to start the inning. Drew Bryan sacrificed him to second and Tarsovich drew a walk. Connerley struck out, but Winn came through with a two-out, RBI single, scoring Holder to tie the game, 5-5.
One of the game’s critical moments came in the VMI seventh. With one out, Nick Dwyer hammered a triple to right-center, his fourth three-bagger of the year and VMI’s team record 18th triple of the season. Dowdell pinch-hit and struck out for the second out, prompting Keydet coach Marlin Ikenberry to turn to Rob Dickinson, who had been held out to rest a shoulder injury. Dickinson was intentionally walked, but Holder grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the inning and set up Tech’s go-ahead rally.
Offensively, Dickinson saw his 14-game hitting streak snapped by going 0 for 1 with a walk, but did extend his streak of reaching base to 26 straight contests with that free pass. That run is the longest by a Keydet since 2009, when Sam Roberts reached base in 31 consecutive games.
Winn led the Keydets with a 3 for 4, three RBI night, and Tarsovich went 1 for 3 with two walks and two runs scored. In addition to Rash, Keselica and Horan had three hits apiece for Virginia Tech, who saw all 11 of their hits come from the top six hitters in their lineup. The 7-9 spots for the Hokies went 0 for 11 with a walk.
"I thought Taylor Edens did a great job tonight in his first collegiate start," said VMI head coach Ikenberry. "He left one pitch up that was hit for a home run, but other than that, he gave us five-plus good innings. We had chances to score runs, especially in the seventh, and didn't get the job done. Against a team like Virginia Tech, you have to execute."
VMI baseball will return to action Wednesday, when the Keydets travel to Norfolk, Va. to take on the Norfolk State Spartans. Game time is set for 5 p.m.