LEXINGTON, Va. – Reed Garrett fired a complete-game shutout, the first complete game of his career, and struck out a career-high nine to propel the VMI Keydets past the Winthrop Eagles, 7-0, in the middle game of a three-game Big South series. The victory was VMI’s (20-31, 6-14 Big South) second complete-game shutout of the year, after T.J. Lighton’s blanking of Virginia Tech March 26, and evened the series with Winthrop (18-32, 6-14) at a game apiece.
Garrett’s (3-7) nine-strikeout gem was never seriously threatened, as only in the ninth did a Winthrop player make it into scoring position. The sophomore right-hander surpassed his previous career of innings (7) and strikeouts (8), both accomplished early this season, and allowed just three hits to handcuff the Eagles and give VMI its second complete-game shutout in seven weeks after not having posted one since 2006. Sam Kmiec (3-7) allowed five runs – two earned – in six innings to take the loss.
Offensively, the Keydets took advantage of four Winthrop errors, as just two of VMI’s seven runs were earned. Brandon Angus had three hits, while Ray Lopez chipped in two and Cody Dolan had two of WU’s three hits against Garrett.
The Keydets got on the board first, but had to wait a significant amount of time to do so. Will Connerley was hit by a pitch to start the second. Two outs later, he was standing on third, but with a 1-0 count on Berkley Hawkins, the umpiring crew waved both teams off the field due to weather. The game was delayed for two hours, fifty minutes due to consistent showers, but resumed later that evening with Hawkins at the plate and he delivered a RBI single, giving the Keydets a 1-0 lead.
VMI added to its margin in the fourth. Matt Winn led off with a towering fly ball to center field, where Jace Whitley appeared to be camped under it. Whitley, however, dropped the ball for a two-base error, and that opened the floodgates. Connerley then tried to sacrifice Winn over, but no Winthrop player could make a play on the bunt attempt and it went for a hit. Nick Dwyer then laid down a bunt along the first base line that stayed on the foul line for approximately 20 feet, going for a hit and loading the bases.
One out later, Hawkins hit a grounder deep in the shortstop hole. Kyle Edwards got to the ball and threw to second, but threw wildly for an error. On the play, both Dwyer and Connerley scored to push the VMI lead to 3-0. Ray Lopez scored later in the frame, doing so on an infield hit by Drew Bryan, to make it a 4-0 contest.
With Garrett cruising, the Keydets got him another run in the fifth. Angus led off with a single and promptly stole second. Winn bunted him to third, and Connerley drove a fly ball to center field, scoring Angus and pushing the VMI advantage to 5-0.
The Keydets added one in the seventh, doing so after a two-base error by reliever Jared Keels, and wrapped up the scoring in the eighth. Lopez led off with a single, and Hawkins reached on a wild throw by Keels on a sacrifice bunt attempt. That put runners at second and third, and after a strikeout, Keels uncorked a wild pitch to score Lopez and account for the final margin, 7-0. Winthrop threatened in the ninth, putting runners at second and third, but Garrett induced a ground ball to first base to end the game and complete the shutout.
VMI baseball will return to action Sunday, as the Keydets wrap up the series with Winthrop at Gray-Minor Stadium. Game time is set for 2 p.m.