Delaware pulls away, tops JMU, 6-4

After trading goose eggs since a 4-4 tie in the fourth inning, Delaware emerged with a pair of runs in the ninth on fielder’s choice grounder and a James Madison error to record a 6-4 win in the opening game of a Colonial Athletic Association baseball series on Friday night at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.

UD improved to 12-14 overall and 5-5 in the CAA while JMU dropped to 6-19-1 overall and 1-9 in the conference.  It was the eighth straight home loss for the Dukes, who last won at Eagle Field on March 4 against Lafayette.

All of the game’s scoring took place in the first four innings as Delaware answered an early 4-1 JMU advantage with one run in the third and two in the top of the fourth.  The 4-4 tie held through four scoreless innings until the ninth.

Singles by left fielder Tyler Powell and designated hitter Chris Branigan along with a bunt single by center fielder Cameron Travalini loaded the bases for Delaware with one out.  With the infield playing in for a potential play at the plate, third baseman Ryan Hartley chopped a high grounder to the left side with the only play at third base for the fielder’s choice RBI groundout.  With the runners then attempting to advance on a wild pitch to the next batter, the throw to second sailed wide into center field to allow a second run to score for a 6-4 lead for the Blue Hens.

James Madison had its chance in the bottom of the inning as junior center fielder Cole McInturff (Centreville, Va./Westfield) singled to left with one out and sophomore third baseman Conner Brown (Richmond, Va./Godwin) walked to bring the potential go-ahead run to the plate.  However, junior second baseman Casey Goss (Springfield, Mo./Glendale) flew out to left and senior designated hitter Evan Scott (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) swung and missed on the eighth pitch of his at bat to strand the runners.

Devon Pearson improved to 2-0 after 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for the Blue Hens.  Stephen Richter recorded the final strikeout for his third save.  Starter Eric Young allowed four runs, three earned, on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Freshman Chris Huffman (Fort Defiance, Va./Fort Defiance) took the loss for the Dukes to fall to 1-3.  He allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits in two innings of work.  Making his second career start and first since the seventh game of his freshman season in 2009, senior Josh Futter (Columbia, Md./Wilde Lake) allowed two runs on five hits in three innings.  Freshman Michael Howerton (Chesterfield, Va./Matoaca) allowed two runs on four hits in the middle four innings.

Delaware led JMU in hits 12-9 with second baseman D.J. Long, Powell, Branigan and Travalini each posting two.  First baseman Jimmy Yezzo drove in two runs with a double and two walks.

As has been the case in last four games, JMU had its share of opportunities but stranded 11 runners on the bases and hit .143 (2-for-14) with runners in scoring position.  The Dukes have now stranded 60 runners over the last five games.

McInturff followed back-to-back three-hit games with two hits and a run scored against the Blue Hens.  Goss also remained hot at the plate with a 2-for-4 night to give him an eight-game hitting streak, including six straight games with multiple hits.

Delaware grabbed the quick lead as Long singled to lead off the game, moved to second on a groundout, and scored on right fielder Nick Ferdinand’s one-out RBI double to the corner in right.

After two quick outs for the Dukes in the bottom f the first, McInturff got things started by beating out a ground ball to shortstop for a base hit.  Brown then found the left side of the infield for a single and Goss lined up the middle for an RBI single to tie the score at 1-1.  A four-pitch walk of Scott loaded the bases.  Freshman first baseman Aaron Hoover (Centreville, Va./Westfield) struck out swinging but reached first on a passed ball to allow a second JMU run to score.

JMU kept things going in the second inning as senior right fielder Ian Haynes (Danville, Va./Tunstall) beat out an infield single.  Junior left fielder Colby Roberts (Benton, Ark./Benton) followed with a single to left field that bounced away from the outfielder all the way to the wall for an error, which allowed Haynes to score and sent Roberts to third.  Junior catcher Bradley Shaban (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) then lifted a high fly down the left field line that found a hole between three fielders for an RBI double to make it 4-1.

Delaware loaded the bases with one out in the third on a walk, Powell single and a hit by pitch.  Travalini singled through the right side to move everyone one station and make it 4-2.  However, third baseman Ryan Hartley’s sharp grounder to third was fielded by Brown for the 5-2-3 double play to escape further damage.

With two outs in the fourth, Delaware put together a rally as shortstop Brock Niggebrugge doubled to left center and moved to third on a wild pitch.  After a four-pitch walk, Yezzo doubled to right to plate both runners and tie the score at 4-4.

Game two of the series will be at 6:30 p.m. Saturday night at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.



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