Roberts Breaks Hit Record, But Keydets Fall to Coastal
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CONWAY, S.C. – Sam Roberts led off the game with a single to break the all-time VMI record for career hits, but five Coastal Carolina pitchers combined to scatter six hits and send the Chanticleers to a 5-0 conference win over the Keydets Sunday afternoon in Conway, S.C.

With his leadoff single, Roberts now has 264 career hits, surpassing the previous record of 263, which was held by Kelly Sweppenhiser ’06. Roberts also holds the program’s career record for runs scored, is tied for the lead in career walks and is 10 away from assuming the all-time RBI record at the Institute.

On this day, however, the Coastal (30-15, 14-4 Big South) hurlers held VMI (21-22-1, 9-12 Big South) to just five hits after the leadoff single. It is the first time the Keydets have been shut out since Feb. 20, the final game of the season-opening series at Florida State, as VMI has averaged nearly 5.5 runs per contest since that time.

VMI had its best chance in the sixth, down 1-0, when Justin Hess and Graham Sullivan had back to back singles with one out. George Piccirilli fouled out to first, and reliever Tyler Herb got Jacob Morley to fly out to center field to end the threat.

In the bottom half, VMI starter Jeremy Brown ran into trouble. After handcuffing the Chanticleers on just three hits over the opening five innings, Brown surrendered three straight hits to open the sixth. The last of those, a Rich Witten double, ended Brown’s day and gave the home team a 2-0 lead. A sacrifice fly and an RBI double would follow later in the inning, giving Coastal a 4-0 lead that they would not relinquish. A run in the seventh accounted for the final margin.

Matt Rein (6-2) earned the win for the Chanticleers, going 5 2/3 innings and allowing five hits. Brown (3-3) went five innings, giving up four runs on six hits. Hess went 2 for 4 to lead VMI, while Witten, Tommy La Stella and Taylor Motter had two hits apiece for Coastal.

After Roberts’ record-breaking hit, Hess rolled into a double play and Sullivan was retired to end the first inning. Brown came back with a 1-2-3 frame of his own, but the Chanticleers scored in the second, when Keith Hardwick homered to left. That would be the only hit Brown gave up until the fourth, when Witten and Motter singled, but Brown struck out Tucker Frawley to end the inning.

VMI threatened in the fifth, when Justin Topping was hit by a pitch for the seventh time this year. No other Keydet player has been plunked more than four times, and in this case, Alex Haitsuka followed by taking a walk. Rein, however, retired Rob Dickinson on a fielder’s choice and Chase Worthington on a grounder to second, ending the inning with the score still, 1-0, Coastal.

The home team went in order in the fifth, and the Hess and Sullivan singles started the Keydet rally in the sixth. After Piccirilli fouled out, Herb replaced Rein for the Chanticleers and fell behind Morley 2-0, but the VMI right fielder flew out to center on the next pitch, ending the threat.

La Stella, Bowman and Witten opened the sixth with hits for the home team, making it 2-0, CCU and knocking out Brown. Travis Thomas relieved, and Hardwick flew out to Sullivan in left, plating La Stella to make it 3-0. Motter followed with an RBI double to cap the uprising at 4-0, Coastal.

La Stella had an RBI single in the seventh to cap the scoring, and although VMI threatened in the eighth, with Hess and Piccirilli reaching, the Keydets could not break through and fell by the 5-0 count.

VMI will now break for exams before returning to action May 11, when the Keydets are scheduled to play host to the Longwood Lancers. Game time at Gray-Minor Stadium will be 6 p.m.

Coastal Carolina 5, VMI 0 (May 1, 2011 at Conway, S.C.)

VMI              000 000 000  -  0    6   0   (21-22-1, 9-12 Big South)
Coastal        010 003 10X  -  5   9   1    (30-15, 14-4 Big South)
VMI – Brown; Thomas (6); Watts (7) and Haitsuka.
CCU  – Rein; Herb (6); Hessler (7); Coons (8); Connolly (9); Frawley and Fidanza (9).
W- Rein (6-2) L – Brown (3-3) T-2:16 A-675