LEXINGTON, Va. - No. 28 VMI managed just two hits against Charleston Southern's Tyler Thornburg, losing game one of a doubleheader 1-0, before Keydet hurler Jason Farley threw a complete game for a 7-2 win in game two in Big South action Saturday at Gray-Minor Stadium. Along with Friday's 13-3 win, the Keydets (20-4, 4-2 Big South) claimed their sixth straight weekend series, while the Bucs (10-15, 1-4 Big South) dropped their second straight league series.
Thornburg (4-1) was the story in game one, as the right-hander allowed just two hits in eight overpowering innings, striking out 11 while walking two. He and Keydet starter Sam Roberts (3-1) locked in to a sterling pitcher's duel, with the lone run of the game coming on Nick Chinners' sacrifice fly in the third inning, scoring CSU catcher Drew Woodall.
VMI catcher Alex Haitsuka, meanwhile, was the lone Keydet to reach base through the first seven innings, doing so with a second inning walk and a fifth inning double off the right-field wall. He then led off the eighth with another walk, followed by a bunt single from Rob Dickinson. Thornburg, however, retired the next three batters in order, shutting down VMI's lone rally of the game. Stew Brase came on to record his second save of the season, retiring all three batters he faced in the ninth, two on strikeouts.
Roberts took the loss while allowing the lone run on four hits, striking out one while walking five in 7.1 innings. John Garrett recorded the final five outs for the Keydets, striking out three while allowing one walk in VMI's first 1-0 game since a loss at VCU on April 22, 2003.
"Any time you win the weekend is a good weekend in this league," said VMI head coach Marlin Ikenberry. "The parity in this league is unbelievable. You tip your cap to (Tyler) Thornburg, he's one of the best arms we've seen this year, hands down. He's one of the best arms in the league, so whenever he pitches, he's going to do that to a lot of teams this year. Game one was a really well-pitched ballgame between he and Sammy (Roberts.) Unfortunately, they executed and we didn't. To have lost two games in this league, both by one run, it shows that there's a lot of parity in the league."
Farley (3-1) took control in game two, firing the first complete game of his career and the second for VMI this season. The left-hander surrendered just two runs on five hits, notching six strikeouts while walking one. The VMI offense came to life in the later innings, as Jordan Ballard's three-run home run in the fifth gave VMI a 3-2 advantage. The home team then tacked on two runs apiece in the seventh and eighth innings.
The Bucs jumped on top 1-0 in the first, as Brantley Meier came around on another Chinners sacrifice fly. VMI, meanwhile, rallied in the first and third innings, but the Bucs turned double plays in both innings to aid starter Andrew White (1-1). CSU took a 2-0 lead in the fourth, as Chinners scored on a Tom Burkett fielder's choice, beating out what could have been an inning-ending double play.
Ballard hit his Big South-leading 11th home run of the season with two men on in the fifth, plating Roberts and Jacob Morley after their one-out singles. VMI extended its lead with a two-run single from Tanner Biagini in the seventh and with a Cory Spangenberg sacrifice fly and a Ballard single in the eighth.
Farley got stronger as the game progressed, retiring the final eight batters that he faced. In the game, VMI turned two double plays and threw out a base runner, as Farley ended up facing just five batters over the minimum.
White was charged five runs on eight hits and four walks, striking out five in 6.2 frames for CSU. Brase surrendered the final two runs, working in relief of Corey Deighan, who allowed two of the three batters he faced to reach in the seventh inning.
"Jason Farley did an unbelievable job for us in game two," said Ikenberry. "They jumped out on us early, and then Jordan Ballard had a great at bat in the fifth to give us the lead. Then we expanded late with a big at bat by Tanner (Biagini) in the seventh, and we manufactured two runs in the eighth on Cory's (Spangenberg) sacrifice fly and Ballard's single. I was really impressed with the way Jason he pitched. It's really tough to play doubleheaders, but under the circumstances, we had to play one with the weather coming in. I'm really proud of the way our guys competed in game two after having our bats silenced in game one."
VMI hits the road Tuesday, taking on Virginia Tech at 5:30 p.m. in Blacksburg. The game will be broadcast on the VMI Sports Network, available online at www.VMIKeydets.com and on Lexington's Fox Sports Radio, 1450 AM.
Keydet Quick Hits
- Jordan Ballard's home run in the second game moved the senior into a tie for second place on the VMI career home runs list with 34. He also ranks second in career slugging percentage (.577), eighth in total bases (311), ninth in batting average (.321) and 10th in RBIs (120).
- Cory Spangenberg had his 18-game hitting streak snapped in game one, a run that stands as the longest this season in the country by a freshman.
- In two starts against Big South foes this season, Jason Farley has pitched 17 innings, going 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA and a .183 opponents' batting average.
- The six runs allowed by VMI on the weekend were the fewest by a Keydet pitching staff in a three-game Big South series since holding CSU to five runs on April 15-16, 2005.
- VMI has hit a home run in 20 of 23 games this season.