HARRISONBURG, Va. - No. 28 VMI took the lead with a seven-run rally in the third inning, but JMU stormed back with a five-run third and a seven-run fifth as the Dukes won a 17-13 non-conference contest at Veterans Memorial Park in Harrisonburg Wednesday evening.
The Dukes (9-10) were led at the plate by Cole McInturff, who went 4 for 4 with two runs scored, while Brett Garner came on as a pinch-hitter in the fifth and finished 2 for 3 with four RBIs, including a home run. The Keydets (18-3), meanwhile, got three hits and three RBIs apiece from Graham Sullivan (3 for 6, 3B, HR) and Jacob Morley (3 for 5, 2 2B).
JMU's Nick Slogik (1-0) earned the win despite allowing two runs on five hits in 2.2 innings. He worked in relief of starter Alex Valadja, who was tagged for six runs on five hits in just 2.1 innings. VMI starter Coby Cowgill was charged with five runs on six hits in 2.1 innings, while Karter Rivera (0-1) took the loss, allowing five runs, two earned, in two innings of work. Kevin Munson recorded his fourth save of the season, going 1.1 innings while allowing just one hit.
"When you score 13 runs, you should win the game," said VMI head coach Marlin Ikenberry. "Our bullpen needs to do a better job in the middle innings. It was good to see Johnny Garrett get back out there and put up zeroes. Unfortunately, we experimented in the middle innings to try and get us to the back end of the ballgame. We need to find guys that can put up zeroes when we put up a seven-spot. They fought back, and we fought back, and it ended up being a high-scoring game. But when you score 13, you should win the ballgame."
The Dukes took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, when Trevor Knight hit an RBI single and scored on David Herbek's base knock. VMI halved the margin when Sullivan led off the second with a triple, then scored on Justin Topping's groundout two batters later.
VMI's seven-run third inning put the visitors up 8-2, with the big hits coming on a Sam Roberts RBI triple, run-scoring singles from Cory Spangenberg and Justin Topping and a three-run home run from Sullivan. The Dukes answered right back, however, with a five-run bottom-half, as Johnny Bladel and Knight had back-to-back RBI doubles, followed by a two-run home run from Jake Lowery.
Neither team scored in the fourth inning, before JMU exploded with a seven-run fifth to take the lead. In the inning, the Dukes collected just four hits, but were aided by back-to-back walks and three VMI errors.
VMI scratched across a single tally in the sixth, coming on a Tanner Biagini sacrifice fly, before the Dukes tacked on three more in the bottom of the inning on Garner's right-field home run. Trailing 17-9, the Keydets pieced together a four-run rally with three doubles and two walks, as Dickinson's two-bagger plated one and Morley's scored two more.
The Keydets put two men on base in the eighth, forcing JMU to bring Munson on in a save situation. The right-hander promptly struck out Morley to end the threat, and worked a scoreless ninth, striking out a pair.
VMI opens a Big South series at home on Friday, taking on Charleston Southern at 5 p.m. The game will be carried on the VMI Sports Network, available at www.VMIKeydets.com and on Lexington's Fox Sports Radio, WREL 1450 AM.
Keydet Quick Hits
- Cory Spangenberg extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a third-inning single. It stands as the longest streak in the nation by a freshman.
- The game was the highest-scoring contest VMI has played since a 19-13 win at Stetson on Feb. 15, 2004.
- In the past two games, VMI has scored 27 runs on 33 hits.
- Seventeen of the 18 position players in the starting lineup had a hit in the contest.