VIRGINIA BEACH -- A string of five straight close loses was snapped Saturday by the Virginia Wesleyan College baseball team with an Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) sweep of Emory & Henry College at Marlins Field.
The host Marlins scored a run in the bottom of the eighth inning in the opener to pull out a thrilling 5-4 victory and posted a four-run seventh inning in the second game to help produce a 9-4 decision.
Emory & Henry (7-14, 2-6) tied the game at 4-all in the top of the eighth inning in the first game when Connor Wise (Cookeville, Tenn./Roane State) doubled and scored on a single by Jessup Lambert (Fries, Va./Grayson County). Virginia Wesleyan (6-14, 3-5) rallied in the bottom of the inning however, starting with a two-out double from senior Kenny Belgrave (Norfolk/Granby).
Brett Sutryk (Bath, N.Y./Haverling) kept things going by drawing a walk and Josh Miller (Norfolk/Greenbrier Christian) boarded base on an error. All three batters advanced, with Belgrave scoring, when Casey Bryant (Virginia Beach/Ocean Lakes) belted the ball hard, resulting in another Wasp error. A fly ball ended the inning.
Emory & Henry drew a walk in the top of the ninth, but the Marlins allowed nothing else.
Sophomore Dylan Stoskus (Ashburn/Arlington) took the pitching victory, striking out seven batters, walking one and giving up eight hits and just one earned run in 7.2 innings. Junior Brooks Kirby (Warwickshire, England/Cobham) closed for VWC and allowed just a walk.
Eric Houff (Blacksburg, Va./Blacksburg), Chase Kirk (Knoxville, Tenn./Hardin Valley) and Andrew Stockstill (Roanoke/Patrick Henry) all had two hits each for Emory & Henry. Matthew McInaw (Honey Brook, Pa./Twin Valley) pitched for the Wasps, striking out three, walking five and allowing eight hits and three earned runs.
Emory & Henry led 4-3 after three innings in the second contest, before Virginia Wesleyan tied the game with a solo run in the fourth. Sophomore Jordan Miller (Chesapeake/Grassfield) led off the inning with a single up the middle, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Matt Ittner (Virginia Beach/Frank W. Cox), and took third on a Polk single. Miller scored on a Wasp error.
The Marlins took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the sixth on a Belgrave single to left. His hit scored Polk, who singled earlier.
Pitcher Alex Tucci (Stewartstown, Pa./York Catholic) and the VWC defense put the Wasps away in order in the top of the seventh. The Marlins rode the momentum of that effort into the bottom of the inning, ripping five hits and scoring four runs to open up a 9-4 lead. Billy Crowe (Bath, N.Y./Haverling), Bryant, Jordan Miller and Ittner all singled in the inning, which was highlighted by a three-run triple by Polk.
Emory & Henry fell 1-2-3 in the eighth and stalled in the ninth when the Marlins turned a double play.
Tucci took the pitching win, striking out eight batters and walking just one. He scattered nine hits and allowed just two earned runs. Belgrave and Polk connected for three hits each for the Marlins, who outhit the Wasps 16-9.
Ty Hill (Knoxville, Tenn./Bearden) started on the mound for E&H and worked seven innings. He walked two batters and gave up 15 hits and seven earned runs. D.J. Russ (Greensboro, N.C./Westchester County) closed.
Bransen Christopher (Hickory, N.C./Hickory), Houff and Wise all had two hits each for the Wasps.
Virginia Wesleyan returns to competition on Sunday, March 24, hosting the Jumbos of Tufts University at 11:15 a.m. at Marlins Field.