LEXINGTON, Va. – T.J. Lighton pitched into the seventh inning without allowing an earned run, Will Connerley had a go-ahead two-run home run and Rob Dickinson added three hits as the VMI Keydets defeated the William & Mary Tribe, 4-2, in non-conference baseball action Tuesday night at Gray-Minor Stadium in Lexington, Va. With the win, VMI (17-19) completed a season sweep of the Tribe (21-13) for the second time in the past three seasons.
After William & Mary had tied the game, 1-1, in the fourth, Ray Lopez led off the Keydet fifth with a single. One out later, the freshman stole second in front of Connerley’s second home run of the season, a high drive over the left field wall that gave the Keydets a 3-1 lead, one they would not relinquish. VMI added an insurance run in the sixth and kept the Tribe off the board until the ninth, when William Shaw hit a solo home run to account for the final margin, 4-2.
On the mound, Lighton went 6 1/3 innings and gave up just an unearned run, running his record to 4-2 after striking out three and walking none. Andrew Montague pitched the final 2 2/3 frames for his second save, allowing only Shaw’s home run, while JT Castner dropped to 2-2 by giving up three runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings. Both of Castner’s losses this season have come at the hands of VMI.
The Keydets struck first on the warmest day thus far in the 2013 season, an afternoon that saw the high temperature reach 83 degrees. Connerley singled with one out in the first, and one out later, Matt Winn extended his streak of reaching base to 20 consecutive games with a single. Sheldon Shifflett then drilled Castner’s first pitch off the left field wall, scoring Connerley to give the Keydets a 1-0 lead.
The Tribe tied the score in the fourth, when Michael Katz singled with two outs. Charley Gould followed with a single, and Shaw hit a hard two-hopper to Thomas Stallings that deflected off the second baseman’s glove for an error, allowing Katz to score and knot the game up, 1-1. Lighton struck out Ryan Hissey with runners on the corners, however, to escape further damage.
After Connerley’s fifth-inning home run gave VMI a 3-1 advantage, the Keydets added on in the sixth. Stallings led off with a double, and Drew Bryan bunted for a hit. Ray Lopez then hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring Stallings to make it a 4-1 Keydet lead.
The visitors put together a threat in the seventh, however, when Shaw singled with one out. Hissey followed with a long double to left field, moving Shaw to third and bringing Montague out of the bullpen. The reliever struck out Ryan Williams and retired Jonathan Sarty on a ground ball in front of the plate, ending the inning without further incident. Montague went on to retire eight of the nine hitters he faced, allowing only Shaw’s ninth-inning home run to right field that accounted for the final score, 4-2.
With his three hits, Dickinson moved into a tie with Louie Napoleon ’96 and Matt Smith ’05 for fifth in VMI history in that category (218). Winn went 2 for 3 with a hit by pitch to not only reach base for the 20th straight game, but extended his hitting streak to 11 straight contests as well.
VMI baseball will return to action Friday, when the Keydets return to Big South play by taking on the Charleston Southern Buccaneers. Game time in Charleston, S.C. is set for 3 p.m.