Keydets Finish Sweep of Hartford, 9-7
Courtesy: for VMI
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LEXINGTON, Va. – Cody Holder went 2 for 4 with a home run and three runs scored, including the go-ahead run in the sixth, and the VMI bullpen closed out the game with four hitless innings as the Keydets completed a three-game sweep of the Hartford Hawks with a 9-7 win, Sunday afternoon at Gray-Minor Stadium.

With the Keydets (4-6) down 7-5, Thomas Stallings reached with one out in the sixth inning. He then stole second, George Piccirilli walked and Holder was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Gary LeClair followed with a single to right, scoring Stallings, and Piccirilli scored when Chase Worthington grounded into a fielder’s choice.

With two out and runners on the corners, Worthington appeared to be picked off first base by Hartford pitcher Brian Hunter. The Keydet senior was caught in a run-down, but was able to get back to first base safely. While the play was going on, Holder broke for the plate and scored to give the Keydets a lead they would not relinquish. Holder then homered in the eighth for an insurance run, and the final run of the game.

Hartford (0-6) could not rally due to the Keydet bullpen, as Alan Watts, Travis Thomas and Michael Devine closed out the game with four hitless innings, striking out seven of the 12 batters they retired. Watts (1-1) earned the victory with 1 1/3 innings, walking one, and Devine was credited with his second save of the season. That marked the 14th save of his career, moving the senior into sole possession of second place on the all-time VMI list.

The bottom three hitters in the Hartford order – Chris Suchy, Pat Knauth and Brian Estevez – combined to go 7 for 12 with five RBI, but Hunter (0-1) took the loss for the Hawks, allowing three runs over 2 1/3 frames.

For the third straight game, Hartford got on the scoreboard first. A RBI double by Knauth scored Brady Sheetz, and Estevez plated Knauth with a RBI single, giving the Hawks a 2-0 edge. That lead grew to 5-0 in the third, as Andy Drexel had a RBI double on which a second run scored due to a throwing error, and Suchy tacked on a RBI single for the third run of the inning.

The Keydets got four runs back in the third, and batted around in the process. Eric Mayers and Andrew Montague opened the inning with walks, and Mayers moved up on a Jacob Morley fly-out. Mayers then scored on a balk, and one out later, Holder singled home two runs to cut the deficit to 5-3. LeClair then singled to right, and Worthington followed with a hit of his own, scoring Holder to make it a one-run contest, 5-4.

Hartford pushed the margin back to three in the fifth, thanks to a Suchy home run and an RBI single by Estevez, but VMI answered with an unearned run in the bottom half. Piccirilli led off with a single, and stole second one out later. LeClair then hit a pop-up into shallow left field that was misplayed, allowing him to reach, and after Worthington was retired, Sheldon Shifflett single to right center to make it 7-5, Hartford.

Watts came in to start the sixth, and retired the side in order to set the stage for the decisive bottom half. After the Keydets took the one run lead, the visitors threatened in the seventh. Drexel reached on an error to start the inning, and moved to second in the process.

After a strikeout and a walk, Thomas came out of the bullpen, and during his first hitter, bounced a pitch in the dirt. Drexel broke for third when the pitch hit in front of catcher Montague, but the ball did not get far from the junior, and Montague threw Drexel out for the second out of the inning. Thomas then struck out Suchy to end the inning and preserve the lead. Holder added his insurance run by homering in the eight, and Devine whiffed two in the ninth to earn the save and give the Keydets the series sweep.

Neither starter figured in the decision Sunday, as Jeremy Brown lasted 2 1/3 innings, surrendering five runs, while Sean Newcomb of Hartford was tagged for five runs as well in his 4 2/3 frames.

VMI baseball will return to action Tuesday, playing host to the Tribe of William & Mary. Game time is set for 4 p.m.

VMI 9, Hartford 7 (March 4, 2012 at Lexington, Va.)
HART             023 020 000  - 7 10 3
VMI                004 013 01X  - 9 11 2
HART – Newcomb; Hunter (5); Barnes (8) and Alfonso.
VMI – Brown; J. Garrett (3); Watts (6); Thomas (7); Devine (9); Montague and Winn (8).
W- Watts (1-1) S- Devine (2) L- Hunter (0-1) T-2:54 A-231
HR HART – Suchy (1)
HR VMI – Holder (1)