VIRGINIA BEACH -- Taylor Erby's third single of the afternoon was the one that mattered the most for Virginia Wesleyan College's baseball Marlins on Wednesday.
Erby (Norfolk/Lake Taylor) singled in the bottom of the ninth inning, scoring junior Matt Murray (Nottingham, Pa./Quarryville Solanco)with the winning run in a thrilling 5-4 Old Dominion Athletic Conference victory over Hampden-Sydney College's Tigers at Marlins Field. Murray hit a two-out single earlier in the inning.
Virginia Wesleyan (1-1) came back twice to tie the game and outscored H-SC (3-4-1) 4-1 in the final four innings to take the conference win.
H-SC started strong, scoring three times in the first two innings, helped by a double from John Lloyd (Glen Allen/Deep Run) in the first inning and an RBI triple from Spencer Wiles (Belmont, N.C./South Point) in the second. Senior Jordan Miller (Chesapeake/Grassfield) helped VWC cut into the 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second when he led off with a double to left field, moved to third on a ground from C.J. Lindsay (Remington/Bealeton Liberty), and scored on a wild pitch.
The pitching of senior Alex Tucci (Stewartstown, Pa./York Catholic) and alert defensive play combined to keep Hampden-Sydney scoreless through the next five innings. The Tigers managed only two singles from the third through the seventh innings.
VWC tied the game at three-all in the bottom of the sixth, scoring twice with the help of two hits and an H-SC error. Erby led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on the Tiger miscue. Josh Mason (Chesapeake/Bishop Sullivan Catholic)ripped a triple into right field to drive in Erby, and Miller knocked a sacrifice shot into centerfield to score Mason.
H-SC came back to take a 4-3 lead in the top of the eighth, which started with a Wiles single. He stole second base, moved to third on a single from Christian Hamlett (Midlothian/Cosby), and scored on a sacrifice fly from Jeff Gray (Newport News/Menchville).
That lead was short-lived however, as VWC answered with the tying run in the bottom of the same inning. Mason singled to right and scored on a double from Lindsay.
Tucci started on the mound for the Marlins and worked 7.2 innings, striking out two and giving up eight hits and four earned runs. Sophomore Riley Koonce (Virginia Beach/Ocean Lakes) came in the eighth and retired the one batter he faced. Sophomore Austin Gammon (North Chesterfield/Lloyd C. Bird) pitched the final inning, facing four batters and allowing just a walk.
Reggie Johnson (Dunnsville/Essex) struck out seven batters in eight innings on the mound for H-SC. He walked four batters and allowed eight hits. Billy Nixon (Sedley/Southampton) and Matt Hinson (Kinston, N.C/Arendell Parrott Academy) both followed in relief, each facing two batters.
VWC outhit H-SC 11-8, led by Erby with three singles and Mason with a single and triple and Trey Hanchey (Norfolk/Granby) with a double and single. Wiles led H-SC with a triple and single.
Virginia Wesleyan competes again on Saturday, March 7, in an ODAC doubleheader in Greensboro, N.C., at Guilford College beginning at 12 p.m.