LEXINGTON, Va. – Five VMI pitchers combined to scatter seven hits and Thomas Stallings homered to provide insurance runs in the eighth as the VMI Keydets downed the William & Mary Tribe, 5-1, in non-conference action Tuesday night at Gray-Minor Stadium.
The Keydets (17-13) took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on a Cameron Walter sacrifice fly and held a William & Mary (20-11) offense that entered the game ranked second in Division I in batting average (.336) to just three hits the rest of the way. All of those hits were singles and the Tribe finished the game having put just six runners in scoring position for the entire contest. Stallings, meanwhile, went deep in the eighth for his second career long ball to provide all the insurance the Keydet bullpen needed.
Ryan Bennett (1-1) got the win for VMI, as he pitched four predetermined innings to pick up his first collegiate victory. He allowed one run on four hits and struck out four, while Aaron Fernandez (2-2) gave up two runs in the fourth and took the loss for the Tribe.
Stallings led the Keydet offense by going 2 for 2 off the bench, while Brandon Angus also chipped in two hits and Nick Thompson was 3 for 5 for the visitors.
Bennett pitched out of a third-inning jam as he got Division I home run leader Michael Katz to ground out with two on, but the Tribe got on the board in the fourth. Charley Gould led off that frame with a towering home run off the left-field scoreboard, his third of the year that gave the visitors a 1-0 lead.
VMI answered in the bottom half, when David Geary led off with a single up the middle. Angus then hit a long drive off the center field wall that went for a triple, his second three-bagger of the year, to score Geary and tie the game, 1-1. That broke a 30-inning scoreless streak for the VMI offense, and Walter immediately followed with a sacrifice fly to give the home team the lead for good, 2-1.
Travis Thomas relieved Bennett and pitched around a two-base error to open the fifth, escaping the inning without allowing a run. VMI then added on in the sixth, when Eric Mayers had a one-out single. Stallings then drove a 1-2 pitch deep into the right center field alley for a double, scoring Mayers for a 3-1 VMI advantage.
W&M put two on against Rian Ellis in the seventh, but again, failed to get a hit with two outs as Gould grounded out. Jonathan Kelley pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and the Keydets capped the scoring in the bottom half. Geary led off with a walk, and two batters later, Stallings hit a long drive off the yellow line on the top of the left field fence. The ball hit that stripe on top of the wall and bounced over for a two-run shot, giving the Keydets a 5-1 cushion. It was Stallings’ first career home run at Gray-Minor Stadium and it accounted for the final margin of victory.
The victory was VMI’s fifth in the last seven meetings between the clubs and moved VMI to 12-4 at home on the year, just one shy of last season’s win total at Gray-Minor Stadium.
VMI baseball will return to action Wednesday, facing the Richmond Spiders at Gray-Minor Stadium. Game time is set for 6 p.m.