COLLEGE PARK, Md. - What began as a pitcher's duel ended nearly four hours later in wild fashion, as VMI won its seventh straight, 7-6 in 11 innings, over Maryland in non-conference baseball action Tuesday at Shipley Field.
With the win, VMI (7-0) continues its best-ever start with its first win over an ACC opponent since knocking off Virginia Tech, 8-7, on April 30, 2008. The last time VMI defeated an ACC team on the road also came against the Hokies back on April 27, 2005 a 6-2 victory in Blacksburg. The Terrapins, meanwhile, fall to 1-6 with the loss.
VMI claimed its first lead of the game in the eighth inning, thanks to a four-run rally against Terp reliever Dan Gentzler. Cory Spangenberg tied the game at two with an RBI single, then scored on Tanner Biagini's base knock to give VMI a 3-2 advantage. Jordan Ballard then crushed a home run to center field, putting VMI up 5-2 with six outs to go.
Maryland rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth off of reliever Michael Devine. The Keydet allowed three of the first four batters to reach base without a hit before getting a second out of the inning. Devine then surrendered back-to-back RBI singles to Alfredo Rodriguez and Jack Cleary before an error plated the frame's final run, knotting the game at five.
VMI grabbed a 6-5 lead in the top of the ninth when pinch-runner Brooks Martin scored on what should have been the third out of the inning. With two outs and a 2-2 count, Cleary was charged with a passed ball on strike three, allowing Sam Roberts to reach first base and Martin to score from third base. The Terps fought back once again in the bottom of the inning, scoring an unearned run against Devine. After a one-out walk, pinch-runner Kevin Tehansky stole second base, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on an error, pushing the game to extra innings.
Neither team could mount a charge against fresh arms in the 10th, as Maryland's Ian Schwalenberg and VMI's John Garrett each retired the three batters they faced in order. The same could not be said in the 11th for Schwalenberg, who saw leadoff hitter Justin Topping reach on an error at third base and move to second on a sacrifice bunt. Freshman Erickson Keeton followed with a single that moved Topping up 90 feet before the catcher slid home safely on a ball hit to first base by Roberts, just beating the throw from first on a double play attempt.
Given a lead with three outs to go, Garrett delivered, notching a strikeout and a pair of fly outs to lock up his first collegiate win. Schwalenberg fell to 1-1 with the loss, despite allowing one hit and no earned runs in two innings.
Garrett wrapped up his day with two innings pitched, retiring all six batters he faced, including two via strikeout. He worked in relief of Keydet starter Jason Farley, who in his first start in over a year and a half, worked a career-long six innings, allowing two runs on four hits.
Farley and Maryland starter Adam Kolarek took turns posting zeroes through the first three-and-a-half innings. The Terps struck first, when in the fourth inning, Matt Marquis collected a one-out single before Brandon Padula hit a home run to left-center field, putting the hosts up 2-0.
VMI answered in the fifth, when Ombri Rivers reached base on an error, stole second base, then scored an unearned run when Roberts singled down the left-field line. Neither team cracked the scoreboard again until the eighth, when VMI moved in front with their four-run rally.
Roberts, Spangenberg and Haitsuka each had a team-best two hits on the day, while Roberts and Ballard each drove home a pair of runs for VMI. Spangenberg stole two bases in the game, improving to 4 for 4 on the season, while Tanner Biagini extended his team-best hitting streak to nine games, dating back to last season.
The Terps were led by the bat of Padula, who was 3 for 5 with two RBI and a home run, while Rodriguez also had multiple hits, going 2 for 5 with an RBI. Kolarek, meanwhile, wrapped up his day on the mound by working seven innings, allowing just one unearned run on four hits, striking out five Keydets.
VMI returns to action Friday afternoon, playing host to Maryland-Eastern Shore in the first of a three-game series at Gray-Minor Stadium. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.
Keydet Quick Hits
- Senior Jordan Ballard's eighth-inning home run was the 25th of his career, moving him into a tie for 10th on VMI's career home runs chart.
- Over the past two seasons against ACC opponents (six games), Ballard has hit .333 with five home runs, six runs scored, nine RBIs and a .958 slugging percentage.
- VMI's seven pitching wins this season have gone to seven different hurlers.
- Tuesday's contest was the second straight game VMI has won by a 7-6 score.
- VMI has scored at least six runs in every game this season.
- Last season, VMI needed 15 games to notch its seventh win.