WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Ray Lopez went 3 for 4 with two RBI and two runs scored, T.J. Lighton pitched four scoreless innings to earn his first career win and John Garrett pitched three scoreless innings to close out the game as the VMI Keydets defeated the William & Mary Tribe, 6-2, in non-conference baseball action Wednesday in Williamsburg, Va. The win was VMI's second victory in its last three trips to Plumeri Park, after never having won at W&M's home facility in the park's previous 12 years of existence.
Behind Lighton and Lopez, the Keydets (6-12) led the whole way, but the Tribe (10-7) threatened in the seventh, trailing 5-2 in a frame that had plagued the VMI bullpen all season. William Shaw led off with a walk, and Garrett relieved Andrew Montague.
The next two hitters reached to load the bases with no outs, but Garrett got Jackson Shaver to ground to first. Cody Holder fired home for the force, and the first out. Pinch hitter Jonathan Sarty struck out, and Kevin Nutter bounced into a force play at third base to retire the side. W&M had just two baserunners the rest of the way, and VMI added a run in the ninth to account for the final margin.
Lighton (1-2) picked up his first career win in his third start, as he allowed two hits and a walk over four scoreless innings. Garrett's save was his second, as he allowed three hits and a walk over three scoreless frames, while JT Castner fell to 1-1 by taking the loss for the Tribe. He surrendered five runs, three earned, in six innings.
"I was extremely proud of how we played today, especially after such a long game last night," said VMI head coach Marlin Ikenberry. "We did a good job of scoring first and keeping the lead today. More importantly, I was very happy with how we pitched and played defense. T.J. Lighton did a great job today, as did all three members of our bullpen - Andrew Woods, Andrew Montague and John Garrett. Offensively, we were tough outs all night. Cody Holder helped set the tone, and the bottom of the lineup, led by Ray Lopez, did a great job of getting the runs home."
After the Keydets wasted a first inning chance, when they had two on with no outs, they jumped ahead in the third. Lopez led off with a single up the middle, and Drew Bryan bunted him to second. Jordan Tarsovich moved him over with an infield out, and Brandon Angus laced a RBI double down the left field line, putting VMI in front, 1-0.
The visitors added to their lead in the fourth. With one out, Holder reached on an infield hit and, one batter later, Dwyer walked. Matt Winn followed with a RBI single to left, scoring Holder, and Lopez then doubled to left to score Dwyer and make it a 3-0 Keydet lead.
That margin grew to five in the sixth, again sparked by Holder. The Keydet first baseman led off with another infield hit, and Red Dowdell followed with a grounder to second that appeared to be a tailor-made double play. The ball rolled through the legs of second baseman Ryan Lindemuth, however, and both runners were safe. Dwyer cashed in on the RBI chance right away, drilling a RBI double to left to put VMI up, 4-0, and one batter later, Lopez hit into a double play to get the Keydets' fifth run home.
The Tribe got two back in the sixth, when two of the first three hitter singled against Andrew Woods. Montague relieved and retired Ryan Brown on a RBI groundout. The next batter, Lindemuth, singled to center to score the second run and make it a 5-2 game. The Keydets did not score in their half of the seventh, setting up the momentum-turning bottom half of the inning. Bryan had a RBI single in the ninth to account for the final margin.
Offensively, the Keydets were led by Lopez and Holder, who went 2 for 4 with two runs scored. Nutter had the lone two-hit day for the home team. Prior to the 2011 season, the Keydets had not won in Williamsburg since 1996, but VMI earned a 5-1 win in 2011 in addition to Wednesday's 6-2 triumph.
VMI baseball will return to action Friday, opening Big South play against the Radford Highlanders in Radford, Va. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m.