GARDNER-WEBB 6, VMI 4 | BOX SCORE
Dusty Quattlebaum went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI to lead Gardner-Webb to a 6-4 win over VMI Sunday afternoon in Big South Conference action.
The Runnin' Bulldogs (25-20, 7-8 Big South) won their fifth in a row in the process, collecting 10 hits in the game.
Gardner-Webb took advantage of early control problems by VMI starter Coby Cowgill to post a 3-0 lead in the first, as Zeke Blanton walked and Ryan Hodge was plunked to start the frame. Blanton moved to third on a fly ball, then stole home as part of a double steal for a 1-0 lead. Scott Coleman followed with a towering, two-run blast over the fence in right center for a 3-0 lead.
The 'Dogs left four men on base over the next two innings, and the Keydets slowly began to get closer. A hit batter came around to score in the third for VMI to trim the lead to 3-1 and a leadoff double from Jacob Morley in fourth hurt the 'Dogs with two outs, when he scored on a wild pitch. Singles by Matt Winn and Brandon Angus put two men on, and Chase Worthington was hit by a pitch to load the sacks - but GWU starter Beau Hilton recorded a strikeout to end the threat.
Gardner-Webb loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, as Cowgill issued three consecutive walks, and cleanup man Quattlebaum rolled a two-run single through the right side to drive in Blanton and Hodge for a 5-2 lead. That chased Cowgill from the game, but reliever Reed Garrett came on to end the inning, and hung zeros in the fifth, sixth and seventh to keep the Keydets within striking distance.
The Runnin' Bulldogs got an insurance run in the eighth to go up 6-2. Scott Johnson belted a first-pitch double to left to lead off the bottom half, then moved to third on a passed ball. Blanton then drove home Johnson with a bunt single - legging out a suicide squeeze attempt.
That insurance would provide needed breathing room, as the Keydets mounted a rally with two outs in the top of the ninth. A double by Rob Dickinson was followed by an RBI single from George Piccirrilli - who advanced all the way to third on a fielding error in the outfield. Morley then belted an RBI single to center to cut the lead to 6-4 and bring the tying run to the plate.
Adam Izokovic worked out of the jam with a strikeout to end the game, giving the 'Dogs their first series sweep in Big South play this season.
Mitch Warner (5-1) picked up his third relief win of the week, working a scoreless fifth inning. Hilton allowed just two runs and five hits in 4.0 innings of a no decision start, striking out five. Jeff Howell worked three scoreless frames and Izokovic allowed just one earned run in the ninth.
Quattlebaum (3-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI), Coleman (2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI) and Brad Collins (2-for-3) led Gardner-Webb's offensive effort. Blanton (1-for-2, 2 runs, RBI, SB) was effective from his leadoff spot, getting on base four times with a hit and three walks.
Cowgill (5-4) took the loss, allowing five earned runs on four hits in 3.2 innings pitched. He issued six walks and hit one batter in the game. Garrett did not allow an earned run in 3.2 innings of work out of the pen.
Dickinson led VMI's 11-hit offense, going 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles, an RBI and a run. Piccirilli (2-for-5, RBI) and Morley (2-for-5, 2B, RBI) also had multiple hits for the Keydets.
The Runnin' Bulldogs hit the road Wednesday for a game at Furman. First pitch is set for 6:00 pm in Greenville, S.C. VMI is back in action Tuesday night as the Keydets host VCU at 6:00pm.