LEXINGTON, Va. - Chase Worthington went 2 for 3 with a home run, and the VMI bullpen pitched six shutout innings to close out the game and propel the Keydets to their first win of the season, a 4-1 victory over the William & Mary Tribe Tuesday afternoon at Gray-Minor Stadium in Lexington, Va.
With the Keydets having just one hit on the scoreboard and trailing 1-0, Worthington stepped in against Tribe (0-5) starter Matt Wainman (0-1) to lead off the fifth inning. He promptly homered over the left field wall, tying the game at one and sparking a three-run rally that gave VMI the lead for good.
Jeremy Brown went three innings for VMI (1-3) to open the game, and was relieved by a quartet of Keydets that included Campbell Henkel (1-0), who went two shutout innings for his first collegiate victory. Henkel surrendered just a single hit and walk in his two frames, while Alan Watts, John Garrett and Michael Devine combined to throw four scoreless innings, striking out four and walking just two as Devine earned his first save of the season.
"In his first start of the year, I thought Jeremy Brown did a good job in the first three innings of this ballgame," said VMI head coach Marlin Ikenberry. "I was really pleased with Campbell Henkel, earning his first collegiate win with those two strong innings of middle relief. If this is one of the years where we can use multiple guys in midweek games, I'll be very pleased with that depth. Alan Watts, John Garrett and Mike Devine closed out the game very well, and in all, I'm extremely happy with how we pitched today."
William & Mary jumped ahead in the second inning, as with one out, Ryan Lindemuth singled to left. Chris Forsten followed with a bunt single, a play that saw pitcher Brown slip as he came off the mound, leaving no play for the Keydet defense. After a walk loaded the bases, Derrick Osteen executed a squeeze bunt, scoring Lindemuth and putting the visitors up, 1-0.
Meanwhile, Tribe starter Wainman no-hit the Keydets through the first 3 2/3 innings. Graham Sullivan broke up the no-hitter with two outs in the fourth, and in the fifth, VMI jumped on top. Worthington led off with his home run, VMI's first long ball of the season. One out later, George Piccirilli and Rob Dickinson had back-to-back singles, knocking Wainman out of the game.
Reliever Matt Davenport induced a ground ball to shortstop, but as second baseman Jonathan Slattery attempted to turn the double play, he threw the ball over the head of the Tribe first baseman, allowing a run to score and giving the Keydets a 2-1 advantage. Sam Roberts followed with a double to right-center, pushing the VMI lead to 3-1, where it would remain until the eighth.
With one out in that frame, Alex Haitsuka doubled to left and Worthington followed with a single. With runners at the corners, freshman Berkley Hawkins struck out, but Piccirilli drilled a single through the right side, driving in Haitsuka for a 4-1 Keydet lead.
William & Mary led off the ninth with a single, but Devine relieved Garrett and induced two groundballs, a double play and the game-ending fielder's choice, to close out the victory.
"When Graham broke up that no-hitter in the fourth, it was a big relief for our hitters to remember that we could hit, and we were glad that finally came after 30 innings of baseball," offered Coach Ikenberry. "Chase had two big at-bats, both with the home run early and with his single in the eighth. In the first few innings, we were sleepwalking a little, but as the game went on, our hitters got tougher and started battling. A big tip of the cap goes to their starter, Weinman, for throwing 3 2/3 no-hit innings this early in the year. He did a very nice job."
In addition to Worthington, the Keydet offense saw eight of its nine starters collect at least one hit, including two each for Piccirilli and Roberts, as the offense totaled 11 hits on the day. Haitsuka went 1 for 3 in his first career start at first base, while Rob Dickinson has hit safely in each of the last three games. Finally, Devine's save is the eighth of his career, leaving him just nine short of a new school record.
Tadd Bower paced the William & Mary attack, going 2 for 2 off the bench, while Reid Killen pitched two scoreless innings in relief.
VMI will return to action Wednesday, as the Keydets travel to Charlottesville, Va. to take on the #13 Virginia Cavaliers. Game time is set for 3 p.m.