JMU baseball pounds Liberty, 21-4
James Madison batters reached base in 36 of 58 plate appearances with season highs of 19 hits and 21 runs in a 21-4 triumph over Liberty in a non-conference baseball game on Wednesday afternoon at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.
JMU won its third straight to improve to 14-9. LU, which had defeated JMU three times last year, fell to 15-10 with its fourth loss in five games.
JMU’s 21 runs represented its best total since a 21-8 win over Hofstra on March 12, 2011. In addition to the 19 hits, which included just five extra-base hits, the Dukes drew a season-high 13 walks while also having three batters hit by a pitch and one reach via an error. Liberty, which conversely drew just one walk, used 11 different pitchers in the game with nine different pitchers issuing at least one walk.
Sophomore left fielder Chad Carroll (Oakton, Va./Oakton) continued his red-hot play, going 3-for-3 with career highs of five runs and five RBIs. He homered in the first, tripled in the third, walked in the fourth and singled in the fifth. He came to the plate in the sixth with a chance for the cycle but was hit in the helmet by the first offering from new pitcher Nick Grant. Carroll’s sixth triple in 19 games keeps him in the national lead for both triples and triples per game. He upped his season batting average to .431 and extended his hitting streak to 15 games, hitting .443 over those 15 games with 25 RBIs.
Junior third baseman Ty McFarland (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) also matched career highs for RBIs and runs with four apiece on a single, double and bases-loaded walk. Junior first baseman Matt Tenaglia (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) matched a career high with four runs after driving in three with a single, double and two walks.
Senior designated hitter Colby Roberts (Benton, Ark./Benton) drove in four runs with three hits. Senior center fielder Johnny Bladel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) continued to reach base reliably in the leadoff spot, going 2-for-4 with three walks and three runs scored. Bladel upped his season on-base percentage to .514 while senior right fielder Cole McInturff (Centreville, Va./Westfield) raised his to .500 after going 2-for-2 with two walks. McInturff extended a hitting streak to 13 games while Bladel’s reached 11.
Not to be overshadowed by the offensive display, freshman right-hander Michael Church (Burke, Va./Lake Braddock) brought one of his best efforts on the mound, keeping Liberty off the board with three hits allowed in 3 2/3 innings to improve to 3-1. Lynchburg native Alex Bowker (Lynchburg, Va./Jefferson Forest) made his JMU debut, retiring all three batters faced in the eighth with two strikeouts. Bladel tossed a scoreless ninth.
Adam Parks took the loss as the first of 11 pitchers for Liberty, allowing two runs in the first inning. Catcher Trey Wimmer was 2-for-3 with a double, a triple and two RBIs. Justin Sizemore and Nick Paxton each went 2-for-3 as part of the Flames’ 10-hit attack.
JMU grabbed the lead in the first with Bladel extending his hitting streak to 11 with a grounder through the right side. He stole second, reached third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout to second by Tenaglia. Carroll followed with a high wind-blown round tripper to right center to make it 2-0.
The Dukes put two on board to lead off the third with a pair of walks. Carroll then drilled a triple inside the third base bag to score both, sliding into the bag as the throw bounced away. Carroll came in to score on a line drive sacrifice fly to left by McFarland to make it 5-0.
Madison tacked on three runs in the fourth without a hit. With two outs and the bases loaded, two walks and an error loaded the bases. Two more walks brought in a run and a wild pitch scored a third to make it 8-0 after four.
A trio of two-out RBI hits added to the damage for the Dukes in the fifth as Tenaglia lifted a double to the gap in left center. Carroll followed with his third hit of the day, a single through the right side, and McFarland drilled a sharp double to the gap in right to make it 11-0. A fourth run in the inning came in on a wild pitch with McInturff scoring.
Liberty stayed off the board until the sixth when Wimmer connected on a two-run triple off the wall in right center. Paxton singled through the right side on the next pitch to drive in Wimmer to make it 12-3.
JMU started off the sixth with a walk and three straight singles, the last an RBI bouncer through the right side by Tenaglia to force Liberty to its ninth pitcher while making it 13-3. After the pitching change, Carroll was hit in the helmet to draw in one run and McFarland drew a walk to make it 15-3. A sacrifice fly by McInturff made it 16-3. Roberts singled to right center to score two to make it 18-3.
Liberty scored its fourth run in the seventh on an RBI single by center fielder Ryan Cordell.
JMU’s final three runs came in the seventh with an RBI single by McFarland and a two-run single by Roberts.
The Dukes will carry a 6-2 conference ledger into an Easter weekend series at Northeastern with a 3 p.m. first pitch on Friday in Brookline.