LEXINGTON, Va. -- The Citadel baseball team took the first game of the series 10-2 over VMI in dominating fashion on Friday night inside Gray-Minor Stadium.
JP Sears recorded 19 strikeouts, the most by a pitcher in the NCAA this season, and picked up the win in his sixth start of the year after fanning 19 of the 28 batters he faced. Sears struck out five of the first six outs for the Bulldogs and continued to mow down the Keydets en route to a career high, finishing just one shy of the school record. The 19-strikeout performance marks the first time since 1983, when Mark Cherry fanned as many against Augusta, that a Bulldog pitcher finished with 19 Ks. Beginning in the fourth inning Sears retired 15 straight Keydets, 13 of which were strikeouts, until giving up his lone run of the game in the eighth.
Kyle Smith pitched 1.0 inning of relief and struck out two, pushing the Bulldogs’ strikeout total to 21 to tie the single-game school record. VMI (13-12, 0-1 SoCon) tallied only four hits.
The Bulldogs (10-12, 1-0 SoCon) jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the game and never looked back, scoring in the first five innings of the game. Stephen Windham, Mike Deese, Drew Ellis and Clay Martin all finished with two or more RBI and William Kinney led the team with four hits in five at bats.
Mike Deese hit two home runs in back-to-back innings in the win, marking the first time since May 12, 2015, when Steven Hansen hit two, that a Bulldog belted two homers in a game. Drew Ellis also hit a home run in the seventh inning to push it to a nine-run lead.
The Citadel exploded for 18 hits in the game, topping the season-best 16 the team collected on March 6 against the College of Charleston. With seven Bulldogs tallying multiple hits, it is also the first time since that contest that six or more players finished with at least two hits.