JMU baseball topples #20 Maryland

jmu logoThe James Madison baseball team jumped out to an 8-0 lead on Tuesday evening before holding off a furious charge from Maryland and taking down the No. 20 Terrapins, 8-6, in non-conference action at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.

JMU tallied just seven hits en route to the win, which puts the Dukes at 10-11 on the year, but added seven walks and took advantage of its opportunities, leaving just six runners on base. The win also gives the Dukes victories over nationally-ranked foes in back-to-back years, as JMU took down No. 22 Seton Hall, 11-3, on March 9 of last season.

Maryland scored all six of its runs in the final four innings, but could not climb all the way back as the Terps fell to 17-5 in 2015.

The Dukes spread out their offense on the evening, as all seven hits were provided by different players. Sophomore designated hitter Ky Parrott was 1-for-4 with an RBI triple and two runs, while junior third baseman Kyle Weston went 1-for-3 with a double and a pair of RBIs.

After a scoreless top of the first, JMU opened its scoring account, plating a pair of runs with its first three hitters. Junior shortstop Chad Carroll walked on four pitches to start the inning and Parrott followed him by hammering an 0-2 pitch into left-center for an RBI triple. Senior right fielder Kevin Husum then grounded out on a stellar defensive play at second base to push Parrott across and put the Dukes up 2-0 after just one inning.

JMU added two more runs in the third inning, both with two outs. After Parrott started things with a walk, Husum followed him by battling for eight pitches to earn his own free pass. With runners on first and second, Weston blasted a double to the center field fence to send both home and give JMU a 4-0 lead.

In the fifth inning, the Dukes again rallied with two outs, scoring four runs on just two hits and taking advantage of a Maryland error and three walks. Weston and sophomore first baseman Brett Johnson both walked with two down and freshman second baseman Kyle McPherson did the frame’s first real damage with an RBI single into left field.

Freshman center fielder Michael Sciorra then bounced a grounder to first base, where the flip to get the force on Sciorra was bobbled. As the throw bounced away, one run scored to make it 6-0 and runners ended up on second and third. Junior catcher Bobby San Martin immediately wrapped up the scoring by hammering a single to center field that plated both runs and gave JMU the 8-0 lead.

The Terps struck back, however, picking up five runs on four hits in the top of the sixth to cut things to 8-5. Maryland got even closer in the top of the eighth, loading the bases on three hit batsmen and scoring a run on a two-out, four-pitch walk to make it an 8-6 game.

With the bases still loaded in the eighth, sophomore Michael Evans came out of the bullpen and got the final hitter to pop out behind home plate to keep JMU ahead by two. The Terps would get runners to first and second in the ninth, but would not get any closer as the Dukes closed out the victory.

Junior right-hander Mark Gunst started on the mound for JMU and earned his first win of the season, throwing a season-best five innings and striking out four, while yielding just four hits and two runs to the third-ranked offense in Division I.

Evans picked up his fourth save of the year, needing just two pitches to escape the bases-loaded, two-out jam in the eighth before throwing a scoreless ninth, including a big, three-pitch strikeout, to wrap things up.

Starter Jake Drossner took the loss for Maryland, his first decision of 2015, after giving up four earned runs on just two hits in his three innings. Second baseman Brandon Lowe, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week, led the Terrapin offense with a pair of doubles on the evening.

The Dukes will play their first Colonial Athletic Association series at home this weekend when they play host to defending champion College of Charleston on March 27-29. JMU will face the Cougars at 6:30 p.m. on both Friday and Saturdaybefore wrapping up the series with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday afternoon.

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