VMI Knocks Off #27 James Madison 8-2
Courtesy: VMIKeydets.com
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HARRISONBURG, Va. - A two-out, five-run rally in the seventh inning broke open a close game and propelled the VMI Keydets to an 8-2 win over the #27 James Madison Dukes in baseball action Tuesday in Harrisonburg, Va. The win was VMI's first against the Dukes in Harrisonburg since 1976, JMU's last season as a Division II team.

With VMI leading 3-1 in the decisive inning, Cody Holder singled with one out. One out later, Sam Roberts was intentionally walked, but Graham Sullivan made JMU pay for that decision, hammering the first pitch down the left-field line for a two-run double.

George Piccirilli followed with an RBI single, and after a walk, Jacob Morley singled home another run and Chase Worthington walked with the bases loaded, putting the Keydets up 8-1. JMU scored a single run in the ninth, accounting for the final margin.

The win was VMI's first win over the Dukes in Harrisonburg since April 1, 1976, as VMI (7-6-1) had been 2-27 against the Dukes at their home park previously. James Madison (11-2) had entered leading the country in runs per game (13.3), but Keydet pitching scattered 11 hits as Sam Roberts (1-1) got his first win of the year. Luke Munson (0-1) took the loss for JMU.

"It's great getting our first road win of the year before we head to Oregon," said VMI head coach Marlin Ikenberry. "I was proud of way we competed all nine innings, but more importantly, I was very proud of how we extended the lead late in the game. I thought we pitched and played defense very well today, and we had quality at-bats all day long."

The Keydets got on the board first, as Alex Haitsuka led off the second with a double. He advanced on a groundout by Morley, and scored on a wild pitch to put VMI up 1-0. JMU threatened in the 3rd and 4th, but Roberts and reliever Campbell Henkel each induced a double play, keeping the Dukes off the scoreboard.

VMI added to its lead in the fifth, when Worthington led off with a single. He advanced on two outs and scored on a hit by Roberts, making it 2-0, and Sullivan followed with a double to the wall in right-center, giving the Keydets a 3-0 lead. James Madison threatened in the fifth, but Alan Watts came on with one out and a runner on third, and induced Alex Foltz to fly out to right. Morley then threw out the runner at home, ending the inning.

The Dukes got on the board in the sixth, when David Herbek doubled home a run with one out. Travis Thomas relieved Watts and, in a game-changing play, picked Herbek off second base for the second out. JMU would not threaten again until the ninth, when they scored a run late to account for the final margin.

The win is VMI's first over a ranked team since last April, when the Keydets defeated then-#1 Virginia at Gray-Minor Stadium, and also marks the sixth year of the past seven that VMI has defeated a ranked opponent.

VMI will return to the diamond Friday, as the Keydets travel to Corvallis, Ore. and open a three-day, round-robin event with New Mexico State and Oregon State. The first game will feature VMI and New Mexico State at 4 p.m.

VMI 8, #27 JMU 2 (March 8, 2011 at Harrisonburg, Va.)
VMI                010 020 500  - 8 12 0    (7-6-1)
#27 JMU         000 001 01X  - 2 11 0     (11-2)
VMI - Roberts; Henkel (4); Watts (5); Thomas (6); Devine (8) and Haitsuka.
JMU - Munson; Futter (3); Tate (7); Mayer (7) and Lowery.
W- Roberts (1-1) L-Munson (0-1)