Keydets Shut Out High Point, 4-0

LEXINGTON, Va. - Three VMI hurlers combined on a shutout, as the Keydets knocked off the High Point Panthers, 4-0, in Big South baseball action Friday night at Gray-Minor Stadium in Lexington, Va.

Despite the win, the results of the evening's other games ensured that VMI (26-23-1, 13-13 Big South) will play Tuesday night in the single-elimination, play-in portion of next week's Big South Championships at Gray-Minor Stadium. The Keydets' opponent, as well as their precise seeding, is yet to be determined.

On this night, Jeremy Brown (5-3) got the win with five innings of solid work, allowing just three hits, while Jason Farley worked 2 1/3 innings of relief as a bridge to Michael Devine, who picked up his fifth save of the year. The combined shutout was VMI's fourth of the year, and second in Big South play. That is the most shutouts for a Keydet pitching staff since 2007, when they had five such performances.

Cody Allen (4-6) took the loss for High Point (24-30, 9-17), who clinched their spot in the conference tournament when UNC Asheville lost earlier in the day.

Offensively, two seniors, Alex Haitsuka and Graham Sullivan, went deep for the Keydets, while Haitsuka and Chase Worthington had two hits apiece. Kyle Mahoney and Steve Antolik had multiple hits for the Panthers, each going 2 for 4.

Both teams had threats in the second inning, as each put a runner in scoring position. The efforts went for naught, as High Point stranded a runner in the top half, before the Keydets left two on in the bottom of the inning.

Brown kept the Panthers off the board in the third, stranding Mike Mercurio at second, and his teammates broke through in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Sam Roberts roped a double to right-center, and one out later, advanced to third on a wild pitch. That proved to be crucial, as George Piccirilli followed with an infield hit, scoring Roberts and giving VMI a 1-0 lead. Haitsuka followed with a double to left-center, and as HPU center fielder Ryan Retz tried to play the ball, he slipped and the ball popped out of his glove. The miscue allowed Piccirilli to score, making it 2-0, VMI.

It remained that way until the fifth, when Sullivan led off by smashing a 1-1 pitch over the left field wall for his fifth home run of the season, putting VMI up, 3-0. Meanwhile, Farley came on and allowed just three singles over his 2 1/3 frames, and the Keydets added to their lead in the 8th. Haitsuka led off the inning and drilled a 1-0 pitch over the left field wall, a shot that hit the rocks behind the outfield fence and gave the home team a 4-0 cushion.

That would be the final margin, as Devine allowed just two singles over the final 1 2/3 innings to pick up his fifth save of the year. That save also moves the Cheswick, Pa. native into sole possession of third place on VMI's career saves list with 12.

The Keydets will return to action Saturday, as they play host to High Point beginning at 1 p.m. in the regular season finale for both teams. Prior to the game, the VMI senior class, including Roberts, Sullivan, Farley and Haitsuka, will be honored in an on-field ceremony.

High Point at VMI (May 20, 2011 at Lexington, Va.)
HPU                000 000 000 - 0 8 2    (24-30, 9-17 Big South)
VMI                 002 010 010 - 4 7 0     (26-23-1, 13-13 Big South)
HPU - Allen; Schumacher (4); Tessier (7) and Mahoney.
VMI - Brown (5); Farley (6); Devine (8) and Haitsuka.
W - Brown (5-3) S - Devine (5) L - Allen (4-6) T- 2:14 A - 201
HR VMI - Sullivan (5), Haitsuka (4)