BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. - Rob Dickinson had his third career four-hit game, going 4 for 4 with a walk, but the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs led wire to wire en route to a 6-4 win over the VMI Keydets, Sunday afternoon at John Henry Moss Stadium in Boiling Springs, N.C.
Dickinson had two doubles and two singles in the contest, but Gardner-Webb (25-20, 7-8 Big South) got a two-run home run from Scott Coleman in the first inning to take a 3-0 lead, one that the Runnin' Bulldogs would not relinquish. VMI (14-30, 6-15 BSC) clawed back to within 3-2, and after GWU pushed the lead to 6-2 late, the Keydets climbed within 6-4 with a two-out rally. GWU closer Adam Izokovic was able to retire Cameron Walter, who was batting as the tying run, to end the contest and preserve Gardner-Webb's victory.
Coby Cowgill (5-4) took the loss for VMI, surrendering five runs in 3 2/3 innings, with his six walks playing a key role in the early portions of the contest. Mitch Warner (5-1) got his second relief win of the weekend for Gardner-Webb, pitching a scoreless fifth inning despite allowing three baserunners. The win completed a three-game sweep for the Runnin' Bulldogs, but the three games were decided by a combined four runs.
Gardner-Webb took the lead in the first, as Zeke Blanton led off with a walk. He then stole second, and Ryan Hodge was hit by a pitch. John Harris flew out for the first out, but Blanton moved to third. That set up a successful double steal on the next play, as Blanton crossed the plate when VMI catcher Matt Winn threw to second base, giving GWU a 1-0 lead. The next batter, Coleman, hit a two-run home run to right-center field to increase that margin to 3-0.
The Keydets then got a run back in the third, as Brandon Angus was hit by a pitch to open the frame. He then stole second, and two outs later, Dickinson drilled a 2-2 pitch into right for an RBI double, cutting the Keydet deficit to 3-1.
That margin was reduced again in the fourth, when Jacob Morley led off with a double. Walter bunted him on to third, and after Nick Dwyer grounded out, Morley scored on a wild pitch to make it a 3-2 ballgame. VMI then strung together three straight baserunners with two out, thanks to singles by Winn and Angus and Chase Worthington being hit by a pitch, but GWU starter Beau Hilton retired Drew Bryan to end the inning.
The home team added on in the next half inning, starting when Blanton walked with two out. Hodge and Harris were walked as well, bringing up Dusty Quattlebaum, who singled through the right side to drive in two runs, making it a 5-2 contest.
The Keydets had back to back baserunners to start the fifth, but Warner induced a double play to end the threat. A caught stealing and another double play erased runners in the sixth and seventh, respectively, as VMI continued to mount potential rallies against the GWU bullpen. It was Gardner-Webb, however, who scored the next run. Scott Johnson started the eighth with a double, and went to third on a passed ball. One out later, he scored on a squeeze bunt by Blanton, making it a 6-2 game.
VMI then rallied in the ninth, as Dickinson hammered a two-out double, his second of the day. Piccirilli then singled to score Dickinson, and advanced to third on a fielding error. That enabled him to score on a Morley single, making it a 6-4 contest, but Walter struck out swinging on a pitch in the dirt to end the contest, and conclude the series.
GWU starter Hilton did not figure in the decision, as he lasted just four innings and surrendered two runs. Reed Garrett pitched very well in relief for VMI, allowing just the eighth-inning run and no walks over 3 2/3 innings, while the top three in the Keydet lineup - Dickinson, Piccirilli and Morley - combined to go 8 for 14 with three RBI.
Quattlebaum was 3 for 4 to lead Gardner-Webb.
VMI baseball will return to action Tuesday, as the Keydets play host to the VCU Rams. Game time is set for 6 p.m.