SPARTANBURG, S.C. – VMI plated three runs or more in four different innings and captured the second game of a three-game league series, 13-6, over Gardner-Webb at Harley Park.
Gardner-Webb (15-15, 5-3 Big South) dropped its third game in a row overall, and second of the weekend to the 29th-ranked Keydets (27-5, 9-2 Big South).
VMI bolted to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first, getting a single from Sam Roberts, a triple from Cory Spangenberg and a two-run home run from Jordan Ballard before the Diamond ‘Dogs could record an out. Justin Topping added a solo home run with two outs before GWU starter Michael Hanzlik could get out of the jam.
Gardner-Webb answered quickly to pull close in the bottom half, getting back-to-back singles from Aaron Miller and Jake Watts to get things started. Miller scored on a botched pop up to first base for the Bulldogs’ first run, Ty Boyles drove in Watts with a double and Adam McFarland plated Boyles with a sharp single to right to trim the lead to 4-3 against VMI starter Adam Lopez.
Hanzlik settled down on the mound, hanging zeroes in the second and third inning, and Watts doubled and later scored on a passed ball in the bottom of the third to tie the game, 4-4.
The Keydets would respond, however, rapping out five hits to score three runs in the top of the fourth to go in front 7-4 – and pushed the lead to 10-4 in the seventh inning, using Ballard’s two-run home run to fuel that run.
Gardner-Webb got back-to-back doubles from Miller and Watts in the bottom of the seventh to spark a brief rally, as the ‘Dogs trimmed the lead to 10-6. After Watts drove in Miller with his drive to right field, Ty Boyles ripped a two-out single to left to plate Watts. McFarland followed with a single through the right side, but both men would be left stranded when Zeke Blanton’s line drive to center was caught to end the threat.
VMI added three more runs in the eighth on three hits and a pair of sacrifice flies to go up 13-6 and put the game comfortably out of reach.
Lopez (5-0) hurled 5.0 innings and allowed just one earned run and fanned seven to pick up the win. Hanzlik (2-2) took the loss with seven runs allowed in 3.1 innings of work. Brandon Boling, Kyle Paeplow and Matt Liedberg finished the game, with just two of the final six runs allowed earned.
VMI had 17 hits, with Rob Dickinson going 3-for-5 to pace that effort. Ballard hit his 13th and 14th home runs of the season in a 2-for-3, five RBI afternoon. Spangenberg went 2-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBI as well for the Keydets.
Gardner-Webb saw Aaron Miller (3-for-5, 2B), Jake Watts (3-for-4, 2 2B, RBI), Ty Boyles (2-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI) and Adam McFarland (2-for-3, RBI) collect all 10 of its hits on the day.
GWU and VMI will tangle again on Sunday afternoon at Harley Park, wrapping up the series at 2:00 pm.