VMI, the 30th-ranked club in the nation, opens Big South Conference play this weekend, testing a High Point at Willard Stadium.
At 16-1, the Keydets are off to their best start in school history, and are coming off a two-game sweep at its military rivals, The Citadel. Along with a 2-1 win back in 2003 in the teams' previous match-up, VMI has now won three in a row against the Bulldogs for the first time since 1989. VMI won a taut, 4-3 contest on Tuesday night, as Sam Roberts' single up the middle plated Alex Haitsuka in the top of the ninth before freshman John Garrett worked a scoreless inning for his first collegiate save. On Wednesday, VMI battled through a 25-minute rain delay to score a 12-1 win over the Bulldogs, as freshman Coby Cowgill hurled the team's first complete game of the season, allowing an unearned run on four hits.
The Keydet pitching has looked strong the past five games, allowing just 12 total runs while posting a 2.41 ERA, limiting opposing hitters to a .218 batting average. The VMI offense, meanwhile, pounded out 28 hits in the two-game series against the Bulldogs, with just two of them going for extra bases. The Keydets rank among the top five nationally with a .374 batting average, just three points behind this weekend's opponent, High Point.
The Panthers' .377 average is far from the only impressive offensive stat for the squad, as they also rank among the national leaders with a .470 on-base percentage. The Panthers are led by junior college transfer Nate Roberts, a right-fielder that is hitting .480 with 28 runs scored and 15 stolen bases in 16 attempts. HPU is coming off a home win over #16 East Carolina on Wednesday, defeating the Pirates, 13-12.
VMI has won seven of its last nine meetings against the Panthers, including a three-game sweep to open the 2008 Big South campaign. Last year, the teams split two games on the final weekend of the season, with the Keydets winning 13-2 in game one and the Panthers taking a 3-2 contest in the regular season finale.
A pair of right-handers are set to face off Friday in VMI sophomore Adam Lopez (2-0) and HPU senior Jamie Serber (2-0). On Saturday, two left-handers will do battle, with VMI redshirt sophomore Jason Farley (1-1) facing HPU junior Brian Jones (0-0). Both sides will throw righties on Sunday, with VMI junior Sam Roberts (3-0) and HPU freshman Jared Avidon wrapping up the series.
Each of the three games this weekend will be broadcast on the VMI Sports Network, as fans can listen at www.VMIKeydets.com. Fans can also watch all three games on the Big South Network, available at www.BigSouthSports.com, while live stats will also be available.
Keydet Quick Hits
- The Keydets are one of just four teams nationally with as many as 16 wins (Oklahama- 17; Arizona- 16; Southeastern Louisiana- 16.)
- This weekend's series was profiled Friday on www.SEBaseball.com as one of the Southeast's top "Mid-Major" series of the weekend (linked above.)
- VMI's six-game winning streak is tied for the seventh-longest current streak in the nation.
- High Point (10.5) and VMI (10.4) rank sixth and seventh, respectively, in runs scored per game. The Keydets, meanwhile, rank third nationally in run margin per game, outscoring opponents by an average of 6.2 runs per outing.