JMU rallies to beat Mason
Sophomore second baseman Bradley Shaban (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) hit an RBI double and redshirt senior Alex Foltz (Mathias, W.Va./East Hardy) added a pinch-hit, two-run home run as James Madison used a three-run ninth to top George Mason 11-9 in a Colonial Athletic Association baseball game Saturday afternoon at Spuhler Field.
JMU snapped a three-game skid and improved to 19-9 overall and 9-5 in the CAA. Mason fell to 11-16-1 overall and 2-9 in the league.
The Dukes had trailed 8-6 through five innings after Mason’s six-run fifth. However, the Dukes rebounded with unearned runs in each the sixth and seventh innings to tie the score headed into the ninth.
Freshman third baseman Tyler McFarland (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) led off the ninth with a triple. After a strikeout, Shaban found the gap in left center for an RBI double to break the tie. Foltz pinch hit and smacked a two-run shot to left, his sixth homer of the season.
Mason put runners on the corners in the ninth on an error and a single. Shortstop Brig Tison’s infield single made it 11-9 and put the potential tying run on the bases with one out. However, JMU senior southpaw James Weiner (Charlottesville, Va./St. Anne’s-Belfield) came back to strike out the last two batters and pick up the win.
Weiner picked up his first victory of the season to improve to 1-1. He allowed one unearned run and two hits while six of the eight outs he recorded came via strikeout.
Reliever A.J. Johnson took the loss to fall to 2-3 for Mason. He went the final four innings and allowed five runs, three earned, on six hits with four strikeouts.
JMU’s second through fifth hitters each had a pair of hits. Junior catcher Jake Lowery (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) doubled and hit his national-leading 14th home run of the season with two runs and two RBIs. Senior shortstop David Herbek (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) also had two hits and a pair of RBIs. Sophomore first baseman Matt Tenaglia (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East), McFarland and freshman right fielder Joe Townsend (Lorton, Va./South County) each also had a pair of hits with Townsend adding two steals and two runs scored.
Nine of Mason’s 10 hits came from the top four spots in the order. Left fielder Shane David tripled, homered and drove in five in the cleanup spot. Tison went 3-for-5 in the second spot. Leadoff batter Christopher Cook and center fielder Dan Schafferman each had two hits. Right fielder Nick Allen hit a two-run home run.
Both teams scored twice in the first inning. JMU put two in scoring position with a walk and Lowery’s double. Herbek singled up the middle to score junior center fielder Ian Haynes (Danville, Va./Tunstall) and Lowery scored on a wild pitch.
Mason responded with a double by Schafferman and Davis’ two-run shot to right field on the first pitch he saw with two outs.
JMU responded to build a 6-2 lead with three runs in the second and one in the fourth. Townsend reached on an error, stole two bases and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Haynes. Lowery then hit his third home run in as many games, all on the road, to make it 5-2. The Dukes added an RBI groundout in the fourth by Herbek for a 6-2 lead.
Mason came back with a big six spot in the fifth. After a one-out walk, Allen hit a two-run homer. A Cook single, Tison double, and Schafferman intentional walk loaded the bases, still with one out, before David cleared them with a triple to right center. Davis scored on a JMU fielding error.
JMU had two outs in the sixth when an error in the outfield extended the inning, allowing Herbek to reach second. Tenaglia singled up the middle to make it a one-run game. The Dukes added another unearned run in the seventh as Townsend singled, moved to third on a throwing error and scored on an RBI groundout. That tied the score at 8-8 and set the stage for the ninth-inning rally.