Delaware sweeps JMU
Delaware broke a 4-4 tie with a squeeze bunt in the eighth and added two more runs while holding off James Madison in the ninth for a 7-5 victory on Sunday afternoon to sweep a Colonial Athletic Association baseball series at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.
UD improved to 14-14 overall and 7-5 in the CAA while completing its first sweep of the Dukes since 2004 and first ever in Harrisonburg. In the 1000th home game in program history, JMU lost its ninth straight at home to fall to 6-21-1 overall and 1-11 in the CAA.
Delaware’s 4-3 lead after three innings held all the way to the seventh when JMU was able to bring in a run on a failed pickoff attempt to tie the game.
JMU’s tie was short-lived as the Fightin’ Blue Hens loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth on singles by first baseman Jimmy Yezzo and designated hitter Alex Maruri and a walk by center fielder Cameron Travalini to load the bases with one out. Third baseman Ryan Hartley then put down a perfect squeeze bunt to bring in the go-ahead run. A sacrifice fly by catcher Ty Warrington and a single through the left side by second baseman D.J. Long scored two more to make it 7-4.
The Dukes attempted a final rally in the ninth. Junior second baseman Casey Goss (Springfield, Mo./Glendale) singled and scored on a deep RBI double to left by sophomore third baseman Conner Brown (Richmond, Va./Godwin) to make it 7-5. After pitching change, designated hitter Evan Scott (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) walked to put the potential tying run on first, but a strikeout ended the game.
Devon Pearson worked 2 2/3 innings in relief to earn the win and improve 3-0 on the season. Stephen Richter ended the game with a strikeout for the third straight game in the series to post his fifth save. Maruri and Hartley each had two of Delaware’s eight hits in the game.
Sophomore Trent Cundiff (Roanoke, Va./Northside) took the loss, his first of the season, after allowing two runs in the eighth.
Goss was 3-for-4 with three runs scored for his eighth straight game with multiple hits as part of an overall 10-game hitting streak, which ranks as the longest of the season for JMU as he raised his average from .227 to .330.
Freshman shortstop Chad Carroll (Oakton, Va./Oakton) had two hits in his first two at bats with an RBI. Brown also had a pair of hits while senior right fielder Ian Haynes (Danville, Va./Tunstall) singled and had a pair of walks.
The Dukes had their opportunities as they stranded 11 runners on the bases, including eight in the first four innings with the bases left loaded twice.
JMU struck first in the game as Carroll led off with a double to left center. He was retired on a fielder’s choice, but a single by Goss put two on and extended his hitting streak. Brown then hit a hard drive to left with the fielder in position to make the catch but missed for a two-run error.
After JMU benefitted from a Delaware error in the first, the Dukes committed two of their own to allow a rally in the second. Yezzo started the inning by reaching on a mishandled ball at shortstop. A walk and a hit batter loaded the bases with no outs. Travalini bounced a grounder to second, which took a short hop under Goss’ glove for a two-run error as he attempted to turn the double play. With runners on the corners, a fielder’s choice groundout gave Delaware the 3-2 lead, still without a hit in the game.
In the JMU second, junior left fielder Colby Roberts (Benton, Ark./Benton) led off with a hit by pitch and Haynes walked after a sacrifice bunt. Carroll singled to left for his second hit of the day to drive in Roberts and tie it at 3-3. With one out, the Dukes loaded the bases on a hit batter but Goss grounded into a double play to end the inning with no further scoring.
Delaware moved back in front in the third as shortstop Brock Niggebrugge led off with a double to the corner in right. He advanced to third on a wild pitch during a strikeout and scored on a sacrifice fly by Yezzo for a 4-3 lead.
Delaware had a chance to add to the lead with a pair of runners on board with one out. Cundiff came out of the bullpen to retire the second out on a sacrifice bunt, which advanced the runners to second and third. However, Cundiff recovered to strike out right fielder Nick Ferdinand looking to end the frame.
JMU took advantage of the opportunity as Goss and Brown hit consecutive one-out singles to put runners on the corners. Pearson tried to throw behind the runner at first base but the throw got away from the first baseman for an error to allow Brown to score the tying run before Delaware responded with its three-run eighth.
Sandwiched between consecutive weekends at home, JMU will visit Virginia on Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. for a non-conference game.