By Wesley Evans
BUENA VISTA, Va. - The Southern Virginia University baseball team picked up its first win of the season during its home opener against visiting NCAA Division III opponent Southern Vermont College, earning a 12-4 victory in nine innings of play.
Southern Virginia's 12 runs, 13 hits and 11 RBI were all season highs as the Knights had little trouble against Southern Vermont pitchers.
"We played well for not having give the team much notice to prepare," said Southern Virginia head coach Logan Mann. "Even though it was cold the guys came excited to play and were focused the whole time. I liked our approaches at the plate, we got hits when we needed them and we played smarter than we did the first few games."
The Mountaineers jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Center fielder Sal Sciara walked to get things started for Southern Vermont. The number three hitter, RJ Pingitore, grounded to third for what seemed to be a sure double play for the Knights, but a throwing error left runners on first and third. Sciara scored on the next pitch on a delayed steal attempt when Southern Virginia looked to throw out Pingitore stealing second. That would be the only lead for the Mountaineers.
Both teams were held scoreless in the second inning before the bats came alive for Southern Virginia. Freshman Keenan Johnson led off the bottom of the third with a double to center field. Jordan Keefer bunted him over to third before starting pitcher Mitch Mantle helped himself out by putting the ball in play and scoring Johnson to knot the score at 1-1.
Both teams were again held scoreless in the fifth inning, but an eight-run sixth inning by Southern Virginia would leave the Knights in complete control. King and freshman catcher Ryan Gabriel were both hit by pitches to start the inning. Zach McNally and Hunter Allen then walked before Nick Lyons doubled to deep center field, bringing in two runs. With two outs, Southern Virginia put together another rally scoring 5 more runs.
Southern Vermont put together a rally of its own in the top of the seventh bringing in three runs, but would get no closer as the Knights' pitching would hold the Mountaineers scoreless in their last two at-bats.
Southern Virginia tacked on two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth off a Mantle triple and CJ Andrus single.
Senior pitcher Mitch Mantle (1-0) picked up the victory going five and two-thirds innings while allowing four hits, one earned run and recording three strikeouts.
Erik Johansen took the loss for the Mountaineers as Southern Vermont drops to 0-1 on the year.
Southern Virginia (1-5) returns to action tomorrow as it travels to Hampden-Sydney, Va., to take on the Tigers of Hampden-Sydney College (9-2) in a doubleheader. Game times are slotted for 12 pm and 3 pm.