JMU breaks home losing streak
Senior first baseman Evan Scott (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) and sophomore third baseman Conner Brown (Richmond, Va./Godwin) paced a James Madison offense that scored 12 unanswered runs in the middle innings to top Northeasetern 14-6 in the opening game of a Colonial Athletic Association series on Friday night at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.
JMU snapped a 10-game losing streak at home and won for just the second time overall since March 4. The Dukes improved to 7-22-1 overall and 2-11 in the CAA while topping Northeastern for the eighth time in the last nine matchups with Northeastern. NU dropped to 12-12 overall and 3-7 in the league.
The Dukes trailed 2-0 and 4-2 before erupting for five runs in the fourth inning and another seven runs in the sixth to grab a commanding 14-4 lead. The seven-run outburst was the biggest single inning of the season for JMU, which allowed two runs in the ninth before capping the 14-6 triumph.
Scott posted career highs of five times reaching base, three hits and two stolen bases. He went 3-for-3 with a single, two doubles, a walk, a hit by pitch, two RBIs, three runs scored and two steals. Brown hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth and then capped JMU’s seven-run sixth with a grand slam, Madison’s first of the season, for a career high of five RBIs. He also exhibited solid defense at third base with a career-best eight assists.
Junior second baseman Casey Goss (Springfield, Mo./Glendale) stayed hot for the Dukes with two hits, a walk, an RBI two stolen bases and three runs scored while extending his hitting streaks to 10 games with multiple hits and 12 games overall. Junior center fielder Cole McInturff (Centreville, Va./Westfield) had three hits, and senior right fielder Ian Haynes (Danville, Va./Tunstall) was 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs.
On the mound, freshman Patrick Toohers (Florham Park, N.J./Seton Hall Prep) earned his first collegiate victory in his eighth start after allowing four runs on seven hits in six innings of work. Senior Josh Futter (Columbia, Md./Wilde Lake) worked the last three innings for his first save since his freshman season.
Andrew Leenhouts took the loss for Northeastern after allowing seven runs on 10 hits in four innings. Designated hitter Jon Leroux was 2-for-4 with a two-run home run. Second baseman Jason Voster was also 2-for-4.
The Huskies appeared headed to a quiet first inning after a pair of quick outs, but after a four-pitch walk, Leroux lifted a two-run home run to center field for the early NU lead.
In the bottom of the first, Goss extended his hitting streak with a triple off the fence in right field. He stayed there through two outs until Scott walked and stole second to put two in scoring position. Junior catcher Bradley Shaban (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) then smacked a 2-2 pitch to right field to tie the score at 2-2.
In the third, Leroux singled to left and Vosler lined a double off the wall in right to put two in scoring position with one out. The next batter, first baseman Rob Fonseca, found the gap in left center for a two-run double to make it 4-2.
McInturff singled up the middle to lead off the JMU fourth. He advanced on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a single by Haynes. Haynes stole second, reached third on a single by Goss and scored on Brown’s line drive sac fly to left to tie the score at 4-4. The Dukes kept the inning going with Goss stealing second and freshman shortstop Chad Carroll (Oakton, Va./Oakton) walking. Scott then lined a double to left center to score both and give the Dukes their first lead at 6-4. A Shaban RBI single made it 7-4.
Scott’s third hit, an infield single, got the Dukes started in the seven-run sixth inning. A walk and a bunt single loaded the bases with one out. Left fielder Colby Roberts (Benton, Ark./Benton) was hit by a pitch to bring in one run and make it 8-4. The Huskies then committed back-to-back errors when trying to jumpstart a potential double-play opportunity to make it 10-4. Brown followed by lofting a round tripper over the high wall in right field for Madison’s first grand slam of the season and a 14-4 advantage.
That score held until pinch hitter Jason Roth smacked the first pitch he saw in the ninth off the scoreboard in right field to make it 14-5. A couple of JMU errors extended the inning and catcher Tucker Roeder smacked an RBI double to left center to make it 14-6.
JMU and Northeastern will contest game two of the series on Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m.