After a Matt Winn sacrifice fly tied the game in the seventh, Rob Dickinson singled off James Lively (0-1) with two outs in that frame. With Dickinson running, George Piccirilli lined a ball deep into the right field gap for a double, plating the Keydet center fielder and giving VMI a 3-2 lead. Gary LeClair followed with an infield hit, a ball that was hit virtually straight into the ground, bounced well into the air and ended up no more than 35 feet from home plate. Lively then attempted a pickoff throw to first base, but the ball bounced away for an error and Piccirilli scored, making it a 4-2 game.
Chris Cowell homered in the eighth for Richmond, making it a one-run contest, and with two out in the ninth, Matt Zink singled to right off Garrett. Mike Small followed with a bouncer up the middle, putting two on, but Garrett struck out McConnell on three pitches to end the game and record his fourth save of the season.
Neither starter figured in the decision, as Michael Devine (1-1) picked up the win by recording the final out of the seventh inning. He struck out the only batter he faced. Lively fell to 0-1, giving up three runs (two earned) on three hits in two-thirds of an inning. Garrett surrendered one run over two frames, striking out three to earn the save.
The contest began as a pitcher’s duel, as Andrew Brockett of UR and VMI’s Connor Bach matched zeros through the first four frames. The Keydets had a first inning double from Piccirilli, and a fourth-inning two-bagger from Dickinson, but could score neither. Meanwhile, the Spiders did not get a runner to second base against Bach until there was one out in the fifth.
At that point, catcher Bryan Conway doubled to right center. Adam Forrer was retired on an infield out, but Eric Flanagan singled up the middle, scoring Conway and putting UR on the board, 1-0. Joey Vecchione followed with a single, ending Bach’s night and bringing on Andrew Deal. Deal surrendered a ground ball single, as Mike Small found a hole on the right side, driving home Flanagan and making it a 2-0 contest.
The Keydets put two on with one out in the fifth, but could not score. That was Brockett’s final inning, however, and VMI immediately struck against reliever Jolmi Minaya. LeClair was hit by a 3-0 pitch to start the inning, and then went to second on an infield out. Minaya then balked the runner to third, and Berkley Hawkins plated LeClair with a sacrifice fly, cutting the VMI deficit to 2-1.
Richmond threatened in the seventh against Reed Garrett, putting two on with two out, but Devine struck out McConnell to end the threat. Cameron Walter then led off the VMI seventh with a triple off Lively, a ball on which Vecchione appeared to lose his footing deep in the right-center field gap. One out later, Winn got Walter home with a sacrifice fly to tie the game, and set the stage for VMI to claim the lead for good.
VMI starter Bach went 4 2/3 innings, the longest outing of his career, and allowed two runs on four hits. Bach struck out five and walked only one, while UR’s Brockett threw five shutout innings in his first start of the season. Dickinson, Piccirilli and Walter had two hits apiece, while Small led the Spiders with a 3 for 5 night.
VMI baseball will return to action Friday, taking on the Winthrop Eagles in the opener of a three-game Big South series at Gray-Minor Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.