ODU’s (10-14) Josh Wright led off the decisive fifth with a walk against VMI (9-15) reliever Connor Bach (0-2). Josh Eldridge then had an infield single, and Chris Baker singled to left center, scoring Wright with the game’s first run. After a foul out, Josh Tutwiler walked and Ben Verlander was announced as a pinch-hitter. Miles McQuaig relieved Bach and induced a ground ball to third, but Verlander beat the relay from second baseman Michael Donovan, allowing the second run to score.
Bach took the loss for VMI, as he allowed two runs on two hits in 1 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out one. C.J. Huyett, the ODU starter, moved to 1-1 by allowing just four hits over five shutout innings. The teams combined to allow just six hits apiece over the course of the contest.
The Monarchs threatened quickly against VMI starter Adam Lopez, as Eldridge tripled to right-center as the second batter of the game. Lopez, however, struck out Baker and induced Joey Burney to ground out to Donovan to end the threat.
VMI put together a rally in its half of the first, as with two out, Cameron Walter singled and moved to second on a throwing error. Huyett, however, retired Jacob Morley on a pop-up to end the inning. ODU had two runners on with one out in the second, but a fielder’s choice and a strikeout ended the frame without any runs crossing the plate.
The visitors again got a runner to third with just one out in the third, but Lopez struck out Burney and Tutwiler to extinguish the rally. Over the first three innings, each team had four of its six hits, but each squad mustered just two hits the rest of the way. ODU, however, took advantage of three walks to help build the decisive fifth-inning rally.
The Keydets tried to mount a comeback in the sixth, when George Piccirilli doubled down the left field line, but Walter and Morley were retired. Another chance at a rally came in the seventh, when Nick Dwyer singled with two out, and pinch hitter Eric Mayers walked. Andrew Montague, however, bounced into a fielder’s choice, beginning a run of seven straight VMI hitters that were retired to end the game.
Dwyer led the VMI offense with a 2 for 3 day, while Eldridge paced ODU with a 2 for 5 performance. Morley’s hitting streak ended at 12 games, thanks to an 0 for 4 game.
VMI baseball will return to action Friday, as the Keydets return to Big South action by opening a series against the High Point Panthers. Game time in High Point, N.C. is set for 6 p.m.