Keydets edge Panthers in marathon

Apr. 13, 2014 @ 09:09 PM

A game that felt as if it took ages wasn’t one for the ages Sunday.

High Point University and Virginia Military Institute both squandered multiple scoring opportunities before the Keydets pushed across two runs to top the Panthers 4-2 in a Big South contest that went 16 innings over 4 hours. 45 minutes at Williard Stadium.
The Panthers scratched out 13 hits as the Keydets used nine pitchers. But, HPU left 20 men on base in the program’s longest game in the Division I era. After tying the score 2-2 in the fourth, the Panthers failed to push a run across after putting runners in scoring position in the sixth, 10th, 11th, 13th, 14th and 15th.
“Leaving 20 men on base was the ballgame,” HPU coach Craig Cozart said after his squad dropped to 20-16 and 8-7 in the Big South. “We got plenty of hits but just not one at the right time.”
VMi (20-14, 8-7) left 17 on and got just eight hits in the program’s longest game since 2008. But, the last one broke the tie.
After third baseman David Geary drew the last of 13 walks given up by HPU’s three pitchers, Keydet right fielder Brandon Angus lofted a fly ball down the right field line. Dane McDermott tried to make a diving catch but came up just short as the ball dropped right at the foul line and rolled away from him.
The ball was ruled to have hit in fair territory. Geary sprinted home and scored the go-ahead run while Angus made it to third.
“It was a fastball and I just reacted to it,” Angus said.
He had no doubt that the ball was fair.
“I thought it hit the chalk,”  said Angus, who later scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.
Cozart, who argued the call, disagreed,
“I thought it hit foul and the guys in our bullpen who were a few feet from it said it was foul,” he said. “But that play didn’t cost us the game. It was leaving 20 men on base. We had our chances and didn’t produce.”
The Panthers came closest in the 11th and 15th. In the 11th, Chris Clare tried to score from second on Spencer Angelis’ single to center but was gunned down at the plate on Will Malbon’s throw to catcher Matt Winn. In the 15th, HPU loaded the bases with two out but the threat ended on a bouncer to third.
“We were trying to hit it in the air too much,” Cozart said. “The win was blowing in so there was no way we were going to hit it out. We should have tried to stay on top of the ball and shoot a hit to left and one to right and then score.
“I don’t think we were necessarily trying to hit it out. But, we got under the ball and hit so many popups and weak flyballs.”
VMI scored first when HPU shortstop Tony Fortier-Bensen booted a ground ball and a chance to turn a double-play, allowing Winn and Jordan Tarsovich to score in the third.
HPU tied it in the fourth when designated hitter Brady Williamson laced a two-run single up the middle off VMI starter Andrew Woods, scoring Kyle Brandenburg (who had walked) and Josh Greene (hit by pitch). They were the first and second RBIs of the season for freshman Williamson.
Little-used reliever Miles McQuaig, who got out of the bases loaded jam in the 15th, gave up just a walk in 1 2/3 innings to get the win. John Maloney, who pitched the last four innings, took the loss.
HPU’s inability to score after the fourth wasted an outstanding relief effort by Conor Lourey, who got a inning-ending double play after starter Andrew Scrubb walked the bases full in the fifth. Lourey wound up going 7 2/3 innings, striking out nine and allowing four hits and three walks.
“Our pitching was great today,” Cozart said. “Conor was outstanding. John did a solid job but that’s a situation where you wind up being the goat if they score and that’s unfortunate. We lost because we couldn’t score. When you lose like this, it just rips your heart out.”