JMU lands in Chapel Hill Regional

Winners of an automatic bid out of the Colonial Athletic Association, James Madison baseball was given a No. 3 seed to the 2011 NCAA Championship and will face No. 2 Florida International on Friday at 1 p.m. at UNC’s Boshamer Stadium in the opening game of the Chapel Hill Regional.

In addition to JMU (40-17) and FIU (40-18-1), the Chapel Hill Regional also includes the tournament’s overall third seed in No. 1 seed North Carolina (45-14), which will square off with No. 4 Maine on Friday at 6 p.m. The losing teams meet at 1 p.m. Saturday and the winning teams at 6 p.m. The remaining one-loss squads play at 1 p.m. Sunday with the winner meeting the undefeated team at 6 p.m. If necessary, a final game will be played at 6 p.m. on Monday.

JMU, which owns the nation’s longest active winning streak at nine games and jumped to 28th in the Collegiate Baseball national rankings on Monday, won the CAA regular season by two games to go into the tournament in Wilmington, N.C. as the top seed. The Dukes downed each of the tournament’s other three teams in succession to grab the title with a 4-0 shutout of Georgia State on Thursday, a 13-7 win over host UNC Wilmington on Friday and a 10-1 triumph over Old Dominion on Saturday. JMU won the CAA regular season for the second straight season and the tournament for the second time in four seasons.

The Dukes, who are currently 19th nationally in winning percentage at .702) carry a potent offense into Regional play, leading the nation with 522 runs scored, three shy of the school record, and an average of 9.2 runs per game. JMU is also first nationally in slugging percentage (.527), fifth in batting average (.321), seventh in hits (643), fourth in triples (27), fourth in home runs (78), first in RBIs (469), first in total bases (1,056), second in sacrifice flies (46) and second in steals (150).

While the offense has been consistent throughout the season, it is the recent emergence of the pitching staff that has made the Dukes winners of nine in a row overall, 13 in a row against CAA opposition and 13-2 in their last 15 games overall. After the second game of the season, the staff ERA didn’t break 6.00 until the final game of the regular season. It has continued to drop through the CAA Championship to 5.77. During the last 15 games, JMU’s pitching staff has a 3.22 ERA and is holding opponents to a .248 batting average.

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