Keydets Sweep Twinbill From Hartford Saturday
LEXINGTON, Va. – Jacob Morley went 6 for 7 with two home runs, the VMI bullpen allowed just one earned run over seven innings and freshman Gary LeClair had a clutch pinch-hit single in game two, helping the VMI Keydets sweep a doubleheader from the Hartford Hawks, 6-4 and 6-5, Saturday afternoon at Gray-Minor Stadium.

Morley’s two home runs equaled his total from all of last season, and his six-hit day raised his average 152 points to a team-leading .379. VMI’s (3-6) 14-hit attack in game 1 marked a season-high, while the Keydet bullpen scattered five Hartford (0-5) hits in relief of Coby Cowgill and Campbell Henkel.

Game one saw Hartford get on the board first. James Alfonso led off the fourth inning with a single, and Andy Drexel followed with one of his own. After an infield hit loaded the bases, a fielder’s choice and ensuing throwing error allowed two runs to score, putting the Hawks up 2-0. A sacrifice fly drove in a third run, as Cowgill surrendered his first three earned runs of the year, after going 17 innings without allowing one to open 2012.

The Keydets got a run back in the bottom half, when Cody Holder led off with a double and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. Chase Worthington then doubled to right, scoring Holder and cutting the VMI deficit to 3-1.

Alfonso homered for Hartford in the fifth, but in the bottom half of the inning, a two-out single by George Piccirilli scored Jordan Tarsovich and made it a 4-2 game. Matt Winn then had a sacrifice fly in the sixth, making it a 4-3 ballgame, and VMI struck for the decisive rally in the seventh.

Morley led off the inning by homering to left on the eighth pitch of the at-bat, tying the score, 4-4. It was VMI’s first home run of the year as a team, and the 10th of Morley’s career. Pinch-hitter Rob Dickinson followed with a walk, and Piccirilli had an infield hit. Holder then drove home Dickinson with a single to give the Keydets their first lead of the day, and Thomas Stallings had a sacrifice fly to cap the scoring and make it 6-4, VMI.

Hartford could manage only one hit over the final two innings against John Garrett and Michael Devine, as Devine struck out two in the ninth for his first save. It also marked the 13th save of his career, tying him for second on VMI’s all-time list.

Cowgill (2-0) got the win for the Keydets, as he allowed four earned runs over seven innings, striking out a career-high tying nine. Hunter Englehart (0-1) took the loss in relief for Hartford, as he was responsible for all three seventh-inning runs. Morley finished 4 for 4 in game one, while Worthington was 3 for 3 and Holder, Piccirilli and Tarsovich all added two hits apiece.

Game two, once again, saw Hartford strike first. Andy Drexel had a two-out, two-run home run to put the Hawks up, 2-0, but VMI grabbed the lead in the third. After Sheldon Shifflett singled to lead off the frame, but was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double, Tarsovich tripled into the right field corner. Morley was hit by a pitch, and Piccirilli followed with a RBI single to put the home team on the board, 2-1. Holder then had an infield hit, and Dickinson was hit by a pitch, scoring a run and tying the game, 2-2. Worthington then flew out to left, scoring Piccirilli and giving VMI a 3-2 advantage.

Hartford tied the game on a Ryan Lukach home run in the fourth, and reassumed the lead in the fifth, when Drexel smoked a hard grounder in the hole between first and second. Piccirilli was able to get a glove on it, but it rolled away and a run scored, making it 4-3, Hartford.

Morley then tied the game with one swing leading off the bottom of the fifth, driving a high pop fly over the left field wall on the first pitch. One out later, Holder reached when Lukach muffed a throw at first base, and he would come around to score on a passed ball, giving VMI a 5-4 lead.

Once again, Hartford came right back, as the Hawks knotted the score on a squeeze bunt, perfectly executed by shortstop Trey Stover. Lukach scored and after six innings, the game was tied at 5.

The Keydets took the lead for good in the seventh. Morley was finally retired to lead off the frame, but Piccirilli singled with one out. Holder then reached on a fielder’s choice, and with two outs, LeClair came off the bench to pinch hit. Holder advanced on a balk, and the VMI freshman then drilled a 3-2 pitch into right field, scoring Holder and giving the home team a lead it would not relinquish, 6-5. LeClair’s pinch-hit was his second collegiate hit, as he also had one in the opener of Saturday’s twinbill.

Reed Garrett retired the side in order in the eighth, but with one out in the ninth, Stover singled to center. He then moved up on a ground ball deep in the shortstop hole, a play on which Holder retired the batter at first. Garrett, however, then struck out current American East Player of the Week Simon Kudernatsch swinging to end the game, and earn his first collegiate victory.

Garrett (1-1) earned that win with five innings of relief, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits. He struck out four and did not issue a free pass. Austin Barnes (0-1) took the loss for Hartford, as he was on the mound for the game-deciding seventh-inning rally. Morley led the Keydet offense by going 2 for 3 in the nightcap, including his second home run of the day, while Piccirilli added two hits for the home team.

VMI baseball will return to action Sunday, playing host to Hartford in the finale of the three-game series. Game time is set for 2 p.m.

VMI 6, Hartford 4 (March 3, 2012 at Lexington, Va. – Game 1)
HART             000 310 000  - 4  9  0
VMI                000 111 30X  - 6 14 1
HART – Thatcher; Englehart (6); Andujar (7) and Alfonso.
VMI – Cowgill; J. Garrett (8); Devine (9) and Winn.
W- Cowgill (2-0) S- Devine (1) L- Englehart (0-1) T-2:29 A-254
HR HART – Alfonso (1)
HR VMI – Morley (1)

VMI 6, Hartford 5 (March 3, 2012 at Lexington, Va. – Game 2)
HART             200 111 000  - 5  7  1
VMI                003 020 10X  - 6  9  3
HART – Gouin; Barnes (5) and Bulger.
VMI – Henkel; R. Garrett (5); Hawkins and Winn (7)
W- R. Garrett (1-1) L- Barnes (0-1) T-2:17 A-254
HR HART – Drexel (1); Lukach (1)
HR VMI – Morley (2)