The VMI baseball team won both ends of a Southern Conference doubleheader May 21 at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 3-2 and 8-4, to close out the 2021 season. The Keydets won their last two conference series of the season and were victorious in five of their last seven contests.
Jacob Menders ’21, red-shirt senior, closed out his VMI career with a stellar effort on the mound in the opener. The right-hander threw seven innings, allowing only six hits, one walk, and two runs with six strikeouts. His record improved to 6-3 on the year and he posted victories in four of his last six starts, all SoCon games.
Cody Warner ’21 led off the third inning with a walk and moved to third on a Justin Starke ’23 single. A UNCG balk scored one run and Trey Morgan ’23 brought Starke home with a two-out single.
Will Knight ’21 gunned out a runner trying to advance from first to third on a double in the fourth inning to stop a potential Spartan rally. Starke struck again in the seventh, singling to bring Ty Swaim ’24 home and make it a 3-0 game.
UNCG finally got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh, with Bradley Bott hitting an RBI double, followed by a sacrifice fly.
Will Lopez ’22 pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Morgan earned his third save of the year with a perfect ninth. Starke finished 3-3 with two walks and Morgan delivered two hits. Warner walked twice. Zack Budzik was 2-4 for the Spartans.
The Keydets scored two runs in the fifth and three in the sixth to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 5-1 advantage in the nightcap. Nathan Loyd ’21 homered in the fifth to drive in both runs.
VMI loaded the bases in the sixth and scored runs on a Morgan walk, a Zac Morris ’21 sacrifice fly, and a wild pitch. The Keydets added two runs in the ninth, both scoring on wild pitches. Loyd finished 2-3 and Starke had two hits, a walk, and a stolen base. Morris went 2-4, Morgan had a hit and a walk and Knight walked twice.
Tyler Bradt ’23 allowed just one earned run in 5 1/3 innings, scattered four hits, and three walks with four strikeouts to earn the win. Zack Mallia had a pinch-hit home run for the Spartans.
VMI finished the 2021 season 18-29 overall and 13-17 in SoCon play. Picked to finish last in the eight-team SoCon in both pre-season polls, the Keydets finished sixth and were just a half-game out of fifth in the conference standings.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published at vmikeydets.com.