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Early Offense, Strong Pitching Leads #6 R-MC Baseball over VWU 15-1

Matt Nickles pitching
Matt Nickles

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Senior Rick Spiers (South Chesterfield, Va./Matoaca) had two hits and drove in three, and junior Matthew Nickles (Stafford, Va./Colonial Forge) allowed one run over seven innings with a career-best 10 strikeouts, as the sixth-ranked Randolph-Macon baseball team won 15-1 at Virginia Wesleyan on Thursday afternoon in a battle for first place in the ODAC.

The Yellow Jackets (22-3-1, 12-1 ODAC) have won eight straight games and are alone in first place in the conference standings. The Marlins (19-9, 11-2) lost to R-MC for the second time this week.

Nickles (3-0) scattered five hits and walked two. He tossed six scoreless frames before VWU plated a run in the seventh. Nickles' previous high for strikeouts in a game was seven vs. the Marlins a season ago.

Spiers was one of seven Yellow Jackets to drive in a run and one of five with multiple RBI. R-MC had 11 players with at least one hit and nine players score at least one run.

R-MC erupted for six in the top of the first. Sophomore Ryan Duphorn (Erial, N.J./Paul VI) led off with a double and junior Jeff Butler (Chesapeake, Va./Western Branch) drew a walk. Both runners moved up 90 feet when senior Cole Migliorini (Stafford, Va./Colonial Forge) grounded out to first. Spiers grounded out to third, bringing home Duphorn with the game's first run. Senior Joseph Tuzzolo (Newport News, Va./Menchville) singled, plating Butler with the second run. Sophomore Reece Yeargain (Richmond, Va./Benedictine) had a base hit to advance Tuzzolo to second. A single by junior Grant Huckestein (Manassas, Va./Woodbridge) drove in Tuzzolo to make it 3-0. Sophomore Michael Nickles (Stafford, Va./Colonial Forge) singled to bring home Yeargain and moved to second on the throw. Sophomore Zack Evans (Fort Mill, S.C./Seneca) drove in Huckestein and Nickles with a base hit to give the Yellow Jackets a 6-0 advantage.

Yeargain smacked a leadoff homer in the third, his fourth of the season, to spark another scoring outburst. Huckestein singled and was forced out at second by Evans. With two away, Duphorn walked and Butler was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Migliorini delivered a two-run double and Spiers drove in a pair with a base hit as the margin ballooned to 11-0.

Rick Spiers sliding into second base In the sixth, Tuzzolo reached on an error and scored on a wild pitch to extend the lead to 12-0.

One inning later, R-MC added to its run total. Spiers (pictured left) had a two-out single and scored on a double by Tuzzolo. A base hit by Yeargain drove in Tuzzolo, and Yeargain scored on a wild pitch to make it 15-0.

Yeargain went 3 for 4 with three runs and two RBI, Tuzzolo was 2 for 5 with three run and two RBI, and Evans had two hits and drove in two for R-MC.

Randolph-Macon returns home for an ODAC doubleheader on Saturday at noon against Eastern Mennonite on Hugh Stephens Field at Estes Park. It will be Dugout Club Day, with the 2008 ODAC Champion Yellow Jackets returning to campus.