VMI Defeats UNC Asheville, 7-4 in Game 1 of Big South Baseball Tournament

Rock Hill, SC - From Big South Sports

ROCK HILL, S.C. (www.BigSouthSports.com) – Chase Worthington had two run-scoring doubles and John Garrett pitched four innings of one-hit relief to lead No. 6 seed VMI to a 7-4 win over No. 7 seed UNC Asheville in Game 1 of the 2010 Royal Purple Big South Baseball Championship, May 25 at The Winthrop Ballpark on the campus of Winthrop University.

With the victory, VMI improves to 33-20 and advances to the main double-elimination bracket of the tournament.  The Keydets will play either No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina or No. 2 seed Liberty on Wednesday, depending on the outcome of tonight's Game 2 between No. 5 Winthrop-No. 8 Gardner-Webb.  UNC Asheville's season ends at 17-35.

UNC Asheville jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning.  With one out, the Bulldogs loaded the bases on a Danny Baatz single to center, a Justin Schumer walk and Mike Vaughn's single up the middle.  Robert McIntosh singled home Baatz with the first run, and Ian Graham's sacrifice fly plated Schumer for the second score of the inning.

VMI would come back and eventually take a 4-2 lead in the fourth inning.  The Keydets first trimmed the deficit to 2-1 in the third inning when Sam Roberts reached second base on a two-out throwing error by Asheville shortstop Catlin Carter, and then came around to score on Cory Spangenberg's single to the gap in left center.  VMI added three runs in the fourth inning to take its first lead of the day.  Rob Dickinson singled and scored on Andrew Montague's single to right to make it 2-2, then Montague scored on Steele Myers' single to right for a 3-2 advantage.  Roberts doubled home Myers to plate the third Keydet run of the inning.

A light rain started in bottom of the fifth inning, but it didn't stop VMI from increasing its lead to 6-2.  Jordan Ballard singled to start the inning and later scored on Alex Haitsuka's ground out to shortstop.  Worthington followed with a double to center that scored Graham Sullivan, who doubled earlier in the inning.  VMI moved ahead 7-2 in the seventh inning on Worthington's second RBI double, but Asheville scored twice in the final two innings for the final margin.

Garrett (6-1) earned the win after tossing four innings and allowing just one hit and one unearned run.  He also struck out four.  VMI starter Adam Lopez allowed two runs and six hits in four innings, with five strikeouts.  Ryan Dull (6-4) suffered the loss for UNC Asheville.  He allowed six runs (five earned) on nine hits in five innings.  Roberts had three hits on the afternoon for VMI, and Sullivan added two hits.  Jordan Lurie, Mike Vaughn and McIntosh each had two hits for the Bulldogs, with McIntosh adding two RBI.

VMI collects its second-ever Big South Tournament win, and it marks the fourth straight year the No. 6 seed has advanced to the main bracket since the Tournament expanded to eight teams in 2007.

VMI Head Coach Marlin Ikenberry

"I tip my cap to Sam Roberts, getting out of the car 40 minutes before the game and going 3-for-5.  I was really pleased with the middle of our lineup.  Chase Worthington had a big night going 2-for-4 with two RBI doubles.  We said going into the ballgame we were going to hand the ball over early to John Garrett early.  We were hoping Adam Lopez would get us into the middle innings and he did.  Asheville kept coming back, you have to credit them.  We had quality at-bats all day long, and that is first time that has happened in a long time."

UNC Asheville Head Coach Tom Smith

"VMI showed why it was ranked in the top 30 for much of the season today.  They did a great job shutting us down after we got ahead early.  We left too many men on base and had some great opportunities to score.

"VMI scored six runs with two-out hits and that's tough to come back from."

"I am very proud of this team for competing like it did this year.  We were in last place two weeks ago but found a way to battle and get into the tournament."