Camels fall to VMI 8-7 on walk-off homer in series finale

Jake Kirkland (photo by Bennett Scarborough)
Jake Kirkland (photo by Bennett Scarborough)

Lexington, Va. – VMI got a walk-off homer from Jacob Morley to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning, taking Saturday's series finale 8-7. Campbell had rallied from a five-run deficit earlier in the game to take a one-run lead in the fifth inning, but the Keydets rebounded to tie the game just before a lengthy rain delay in the bottom of the eighth.

Jimmy Brenneman reached on an error to lead off the contest. He moved around to third base after a sacrifice bunt from McQuown and a groudout by Felton. Jake Kirkland then legged out an infield single that plated Brenneman for his 54th run of the season as CU got on the scoreboard first for the first time of the series.

VMI answered in the bottom of the frame, putting the first two runners on base on back-to-back base hits. After a lineout resulted in the first out of the inning, Rob Dickinson scored on a fielder's choice from Gary LeClair to even the game at 1-1. Camel starter Andrew Jacobsen stranded two Keydets on base, using a pickoff to get out of the inning.

David Olson's single to right-center to leadoff the second extended his hitting streak to a team season-best 17 games. Olson finished the game 1-for-3 with an RBI.

The Keydets took advantage of three walks off Jacobsen and four total in the third inning, scoring five runs on three hits to take the largest lead of the series. Thomas Stallings and Drew Bryan each provided two-RBI singles for VMI as the hosts built a five-run advantage.

Campbell tried to mount a two-out rally in the fourth inning. Jake Kirkland reached on an error by the rightfielder and Olson followed with a walk, but Henkel was able to induce a fly-out to get out of the inning.

The Fighting Camels erupted for a five-run fifth inning that evened the score at 6-6. Consecutive singles from Nick Ray and Ben Fish started the rally. After a fly-out, Brenneman drew a walk to load the bases. McQuown laced an RBI single to right field to score Ray, and Felton then reached on an error that plated two more Camel runs.

Kirkland drilled an RBI double to deep centerfield that brought CU within a run at 6-5, and Olson tied the game on an RBI groundout that scored Felton. Kirkland finished the game 2-for-4 with two RBI.

Campbell retook the lead an inning later, ignited by a one-out double from Ben Fish. Fish advanced to third on a groundout and came to the plate when Brenneman lined an RBI single to left-center to put the Camels back in front.

Hector Cedano entered in the third inning and allowed just one hit over 4.1 innings of work. The sophomore right-hander struck out five Keydet batters, while issuing two walks. The second base on balls came to Stallings to lead off the bottom of the eighth.

Ryan Mattes entered the game in relief of Cedano. After being sacrificed to second, Stallings reached third base when a throwing error allowed Drew Bryan to reach base and placed runners on the corners with one out. VMI then tied the game at 7-7 with a sacrifice fly off the bat of Matt Winn to centerfield that allowed Stallings to score an unearned run.

Immediately after the tying run was scored, rain arrived that forced just over a one hour rain delay. When play restarted, a walk put to Keydets on with two outs. David Olson took the pitcher's mound and got a pop-out to end the inning and send the game to the ninth tied.

Morley's homer in the ninth came off Olson and was his third of the series. Olson falls to 0-1 on the season in his first loss. Campbell moves to 32-10 overall, 9-6 in the Big South. The Camels are back in action next Thursday when they travel to former A-Sun rival Lipscomb for a three-games series.