Keydets Defeat St. Joe’s 9-3 to Open 2019 Season
WILMINGTON, N.C. – Senior first-baseman Jake Huggins had three hits and three RBI Friday as the VMI baseball team opened the 2019 season with a 9-3 victory over St. Joe’s University in a contest played at UNC-Wilmington (UNCW).
VMI got on the scoreboard first in the third inning. Michael Diodato reached on an error and Ryan Smoot followed with a walk. Josh Hollifeld brought Diodato home with an RBI groundout for the Keydets’ first run of the season. Jake Huggins tripled and Nathan Loyd singled to make the score 3-0. Ryan Smoot grounded out in the fourth to bring home Cody Warner and give the Keydets a 4-0 lead.
Following a St. Joe’s run in the top of the fifth, VMI struck again in the bottom portion of the frame on Warner two-run double. The teams each scored twice in the sixth, as Nuccio delivered an RBI double and Huggins pushed the lead to 8-3 on a single. The Keydets scored another insurance run in the eighth.
Huggins, a pre-season second-team All-Southern Conference selection, finished the day 3-5 with two runs scored and three RBI. Loyd had two hits and two walks and Smoot walked three times as the Keydets drew eight walks total.
Junior Jacob Menders got the start on the mound in the season opener and worked out of trouble to allow no runs in his three innings. Jon Clines struck out six in four innings of relief and allowed three runs to pick up the win. Matt Keane came on in the eighth and Michael Geary worked the ninth, both tossing scoreless innings.
Brandon Hueth and James McConnon, the Hawks first two batters in the order, each had three hits.
The Keydets (1-0) are scheduled to play UNCW tonight at 6:30 p.m., or 45 minutes after the UNCW-St. Joe’s game concludes.