Bulldogs Sweep VMI 5-4, 6-4

March 17, 2012
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Courtesy: UNC Asheville

ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Todd Joyner's two-run single in the bottom of the 10th inning rallied UNC Asheville past VMI 5-4 in a completion of a suspended game from Friday as the Bulldogs opened Big South Conference play with a win.

In the second game, UNC Asheville overcame an early 2-0 deficit to down VMI 6-4. Drew Spear pitched four innings of relief to make a winner of Brian Connelly (2-1). It was Spear's first save of the season.

In the first game, Asheville led 2-0 in the ninth inning but the Keydets rallied for two runs to tie the game and two runs in the 10th to take the lead 4-2 before the home team picked up three runs to win the game.

Elliot Criss (1-1) earned the win in relief for the Bulldogs. The victory ended an eight-game losing streak to VMI by Asheville.

The Bulldogs (10-9, 2-0 BSC) trailed 4-2 entering the bottom of the 10th before rallying. Eli Miller led off with a single to right field. Pinch-hitter Patrick Koontz coaxed a walk from reliever Michael Devine to put runners on first and second with nobody out.

Jordan Lurie then had a sacrifice bunt to put runners on second and third with one out. Pinch-hitter Grant Gajdosz drove in the first run of the inning on an infield single to second base to cut the lead to 4-3 and put runners on first and third.

A wild pitch from reliever Reed Garrett put runners on second and third. Billy Creighton was intentionally walked to load the bases.

With one out, Joyner hit a 1-1 pitch into right-center field to plate both runs and give the Bulldogs their first walk-off victory of the season.

Joyner finished the game 4-for-6 with three RBI. He hit his first home run of the season when the game started on Friday in the fifth inning. Miller added four hits for Asheville, while Hunter Bryant and Cody Buch contributed two hits each.

Asheville had led 2-0 on Friday when the game was suspended on Friday in the top of the eighth inning due to lightning and rain. When the game picked up in the eight, the Keydets (6-11, 0-2 BSC) had a runner on first with nobody out.

Asheville had just taken out starter Ryan Dull in the eighth. Dull pitched seven innings, scattering seven hits, striking out six and walking just one.

Reliever Adam Spracklin was able to get out of the eighth thanks to a pick-off and a double-play ball. The Bulldogs hoped to get some insurance in the bottom of the frame but left the bases loaded. Asheville left 14 men on base during the game.

The Bulldogs were one out away from winning the game in the ninth before disaster struck the home team. A single, an error and hit batter loaded the bases with one out. After reliever Ethan Steible got a strike out for the second out of the inning, he faced Gary LeClair.

LeClair bounced a single that snuck into center-field, plating two runs to tie the game at 2-2.

Asheville had runners on first and third in the bottom of the ninth with two outs but reliever John Garrett wa able to get a strikeout to end the Bulldog threat.

In the top of the 10th with one out, Jacob Morley doubled to deep center field. With two outs, Thomas Stallings singled sharply to center field, scoring Morley for a 3-2 VMI lead.  He scored two batters later on a wild pitch putting the Keydets in front, 4-2.

The game started on Friday and both starters were sharp. VMI starter Coby Cowgill scattered 11 hits over six innings but had eight strikeouts and kept Asheville to just two runs, one earned.

Dull was even more effective limiting VMI to one hit over five innings.

George Piccarilli, Rob Dickinson, Jacob Morley, Michael Donovan and Brandon Diamond all had two hits for the Keydets.

In the second game, VMI jumped in front 2-0 in the first inning when Rob Dickinson lined a two-run homer over the right field wall.

The Keydets stayed in front until the third when Asheville took the lead for good with four runs. The Bulldogs had four hits in the inning and took advantage of three VMI errors. 

Andrew Kirkland reached on an error to open the inning, Kyle Weston singled to put runners on first and second. Thomas Bess then reached first on an error by the catcher on a bunt attempt to load the bases.

Miller made VMI pay with a two-run single to center field to knot the game at 2-2.  Miller then stole second with Bess scoring on the play when the throw from Keydet catcher Matt Winn went into centerfield to put Asheville in front 3-2. Billy Creighton followed with a run-scoring single and a 4-2 Bulldog advantage.

The Blue & White picked up some insurance runs in the sixth by scoring twice. Ian Graham opened the inning with a single. One out later, Cody Buch singled to left to put runners on first and second. A wild pitch put runners on second and third. Andrew Kirkland followed with a run-scoring single to push the lead to 5-2. Kyle Weston had an RBI-groundout to increase the margin to 6-2.

VMI closed to 6-3 with an unearned run in the seventh as Nick Dwyer scored on a throwing error. In the ninth, Morley's run-scoring single plated Jordan Tarsovich to narrow the lead to 6-4. But Spear struck out Michael Donovan to end the game and give Asheville its first series win over the Keydets since the 2006 season.

Dwyer and Piccarilli had two hits each for VMI. Weston and Creighton had two hits each for the Bulldogs.

The teams will play the third and final game of the series Sunday at 1 p.m.


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