NORFOLK, Va. – Brandon Angus went 3 for 6, the VMI bullpen allowed just four hits over the final six innings and the Keydet offense took advantage of six Norfolk State errors as VMI baseball defeated the Norfolk State Spartans, 9-4, in non-conference baseball action Wednesday in Norfolk, Va. The win snapped a seven-game losing streak for the Keydets that saw only one of the setbacks decided by more than three runs.
The Keydets (19-26) trailed 2-1 headed into the fifth, but took the lead in the top half of that frame. Ray Lopez and David Geary walked to start the inning, and Drew Bryan bunted the ball back to the mound. Pitcher Troy Applin threw to second, but threw wildly for an error to load the bases. Jordan Tarsovich then lined into a double play, and Angus struck out.
On the strikeout, however, NSU (15-22) catcher Robert Rheume saw the ball go by him for a passed ball, allowing Angus to reach. The Keydets took advantage, when Matt Winn was hit by a pitch to drive in the tying run. A wild pitch then scored Bryan, giving VMI a 3-2 lead, and Red Dowdell walked. Nick Dwyer then had an infield hit, giving the Keydets a 4-2 advantage, and they would not trail again.
Offensively, the Keydets were led by Angus, who went 3 for 6 for his second career three-hit game. Rob Dickinson, who entered as a pinch-hitter late, went 1 for 2 to extend his streak of reaching base to 27 consecutive games.
On the mound, Rian Ellis picked up the win for his first collegiate victory, moving 1-2 on the year. Ellis, pitching for the first time since March 8, allowed three hits in 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Applin took the loss in relief to drop to 1-3.
The Keydets scored first, taking a 1-0 lead in the third. Geary led off with his first collegiate hit, a single to center, and Bryan bunted back to the mound. Pitcher Chris Horne threw wildly to second for an error, allowing both runners to reach safely. One out later, Geary was nabbed on the front end of a double steal, but Angus chipped a two-out RBI single through the right side, scoring Bryan with the first run of the game.
NSU fired back in the bottom half, when Zach Markel walked with one out against Miles McQuaig. Cameron Day then doubled down the left field line, scoring a run, and after a Kyle Vaas single, a Ryan Montgomery bunt hit scored Day to give the home team a 2-1 lead.
The Keydets then took the lead in the fifth and proceeded to add on in the sixth. With one out, Ray Lopez had a bunt single and went to second on the third baseman’s throwing error. Geary struck out, but Lopez stole third and scored on Bryan’s infield single, pushing the VMI lead to 5-2.
That margin grew once again in the seventh, when Winn led off with a single. Eric Mayers walked, and one out later, Dickinson singled to center to load the bases. Lopez bounced into a fielder’s choice at the plate, erasing Winn, but Cody Holder was hit by a pitch to force in a run, making it a 6-2 ballgame.
The home team cut the margin in half in the bottom of the inning. Day walked with one out, and Dwyer committed a fielding error on a possible double play grounder off the bat of Vaas, allowing both runners to reach. One out later, Tyon Ore walked against Andrew Montague and Rheume laced a two-run single to left, cutting the Keydet lead to 6-4.
VMI got those runs back right away, however, as Tarsovich walked, stole second and scored on Angus’ single to push the lead back to three, 7-4. A passed ball later in the inning made it an 8-4 game, and a Tarsovich RBI single in the ninth accounted for the final margin.
Neither starter figured in the decision on a true staff day for both schools, as McQuaig lasted three innings, giving up two runs on six hits. Horne allowed one run on two hits in three innings for Norfolk State.
VMI baseball returns to action Friday, as the Keydets play host to the Liberty Flames at Gray-Minor Stadium. Game time for the opener of the Big South weekend series is set for 6 p.m.