RICHMOND, Va. - The VCU Rams took an early 6-2 lead, but the VMI Keydets scored five runs in the fifth inning and got five shutout innings from their bullpen to notch a 7-6 win in the second game of the Terry Sisisky Classic, contested at The Diamond in Richmond on Friday evening. The game marked the season finale for VMI baseball.
After Jacob Morley got the first run home in the fifth, cutting the VCU (31-23) lead to 6-3, Cameron Walter drew a walk and Michael Donovan helped instigate the rest of the rally. The freshman hit a high chopper to the left side that third baseman Joey Cujas just got a glove on, but the ball skittered into very shallow left field for a RBI hit. Donovan turned the play into a hustling double, and the VMI (16-36) second baseman then got a perfect read on Brandon Angus' two-run single and scored the second of two Keydet runs on the play, tying the game, 6-6. Matt Winn followed with a RBI double off the left-field wall, scoring Angus and giving the Keydets a lead they would not relinquish.
Reed Garrett relieved in the VCU fifth and allowed a one-out double to Paul Nice, but he was left stranded at third. That would be the Rams' last runner in scoring position until the 8th, as Garrett retired eight in a row before Bill Cullen's one-out single in that frame.
Jordan Weymouth then walked, and John Garrett came out of the Keydet bullpen to face leading VCU hitter Joey Cujas. On a 1-1 pitch, Cujas hit a hard two-hopper to VMI shortstop Drew Bryan, who took it to the bag at second and threw on to first for the inning-ending double play. John Garrett then worked around a two-out double in the ninth to complete the save, his sixth of the year, and end the Keydet season on a positive note.
Adam Lopez (1-3) picked up the win in his final collegiate outing, allowing two runs (one earned) in 2 1/3 relief innings, while Josh Alford allowed four runs in 2/3 of an inning to take the loss for VCU.
"I was proud of our energy and the way our guys competed today, as well as last night," said VMI head coach Marlin Ikenberry. "Brandon Angus did a great job tonight with his three hits, and I was proud how we competed offensively. Even though we had two errors, they were from the mound and I thought we played good defense tonight in front of a great crowd. Adam Lopez and Reed Garrett did a nice job of getting us deep into the ballgame. John Garrett came on in the eighth and got the big double play, and then closed the door in the ninth. I know it was an emotional day for our seniors, playing their last collegiate game, and it was fun to send them out with a win.
The Keydets jumped ahead quickly in the first, as Rob Dickinson led off with an infield hit. The next batter, George Piccirilli, homered to left-center field to put VMI up, 2-0. The lead was short lived, however, as a Taylor Buran RBI double and a two-run shot by Chris Ayers gave VCU the lead, 3-2, after one inning.
VMI managed just a single in the second, and VCU got a one-out single from Nice in the second. One out later, he went to third when Keydet starter Campbell Henkel committed a throwing error, and he scored on Cujas' RBI single. Lopez would relieve later in the inning, with the bases loaded, and strike out Ayers to avoid further damage.
The Rams added on a run in the third against Lopez, when Brent Mikionis scored on a wild pitch, and did so again in the fourth when Cujas scored on a Lopez throwing miscue. That play gave the home team a 6-2 lead after four, and set the stage for the turning point of the game. Bryan greeted VCU reliever Alford with a single to right, and Dickinson followed with a hit of his own. Piccirilli then singled to center, loading the bases for Morley. The leading power source for the 2012 Keydets bounced into a 6-4-3 double play, scoring the first run of the rally and bringing Walter to the plate to continue the five-run uprising.
Reed Garrett then entered in the fifth, and after Nice's double, did not allow another hit until the eighth. Meanwhile, the Ram bullpen shut down VMI as well, sending the game to the eighth still at 7-6, Keydets, and setting up the drama over the final two frames.
Angus led the way for the Keydet offense, posting a 3 for 5 night and running his hitting streak to six straight games with his first career three-hit effort. Piccirilli, making his final collegiate appearance, was one of four VMI hitters to collect two hits, as every Keydet offensive player reached base in the season-ending win. Four VCU players had two hits apiece as well.