LEXINGTON, Va. - The VMI Keydets used four home runs and a strong rebound outing from freshman right-hander Zak Kent to defeat the Richmond Spiders, 6-3, in non-conference baseball action Tuesday in Lexington, Va.
Tyler Tharp homered and Peyton Maddox and Jake Huggins went deep as well, all in the first four innings to stake Kent to an early 5-0 lead, and the freshman righty rebounded from not getting out of the first inning in his start one week ago to throw a career-long 4 1/3 innings and give up just two fifth-inning runs.
The VMI (9-10) bullpen emerged from the fifth inning with a 5-3 lead, and Tharp provided insurance with his second home run of the game in the bottom of the frame to cap the scoring. Liam Roden, Mason Adamson and Ryan Bennett combined to allow just three UR (7-12) hits over the final 4 1/3 innings to preserve VMI's victory.
Kent (1-2) picked up the victory and Bennett needed just two pitches to induce a game-ending 4-6-3 double play for his third save of the year. Starter Peter Bovenzi (0-1) took the loss despite striking out eight Keydets in four innings, as he was charged with five runs on four hits and three walks.
With first baseman Collin Fleischer and outfielder Will Malbon unavailable due to injuries, the Keydets shuffled their lineup. Ryan Smoot made his first career start at first base, Jake Huggins started a game for the first time at third base and Jordan Ebersole made just his second start in center field.
The makeshift lineup jumped ahead 2-0 in the first, when Tharp launched a two-run shot to deep right center to put VMI on the board. Kent pitched out of a bases-loaded, one out situation in the second and was the beneficiary of a 9-4-2 relay that kept another run off the board in the third. Maddox then homered to deep left field in the bottom of the inning, doubling the VMI lead to 4-0.
A solo homer for Huggins in the fourth made it 5-0, but UR got three runs back in the fifth. Tharp switched the momentum back to VMI, however, with a line drive homer in the fifth - his sixth of the year - to account for the final margin. It was the first multi-homer game of Tharp's career.
Richmond managed to get just two runners into scoring position the rest of the way.
Associate Head Coach Travis Beazley was the acting head coach for VMI as Jonathan Hadra served a one-game required suspension, mandated by the Southern Conference, following his ejection Sunday.
VMI baseball will return to action Wednesday, when the Keydets take on William & Mary in Williamsburg at 6 p.m.