JMU, ODU split two

Senior left-hander Alex Valadja (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Catholic) and four homers powered James Madison to a 13-2 win over Old Dominion in the opener of a Colonial Athletic Association baseball doubleheader while ODU claimed a back-and-forth second game by a 10-8 score on Saturday at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.

JMU had its streak of 11 straight CAA series wins snapped, a run that dated back to dropping the final series of the 2009 season against George Mason. Madison fell to 18-7 overall and 8-4 in the CAA. The Dukes also lost their first game in a doubleheader this season to stand at 7-1. ODU is now 12-14 overall, 5-4 in the league.

GAME 1 – JMU 13, ODU 2

Valadja allowed no runs and just two hits through the first six innings. At one point he recorded 12 outs without a hit allowed until a pair of hits with two outs in the seventh brought in the first run. Valadja tied his career-high with seven innings and struck out five to improve to 3-1.

Junior catcher Jake Lowery (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) homered twice, a two-run shot and his second grand slam of the season, to raise his nation’s-leading total to 11. He drove in six or more runs for the third time this season.

Senior shortstop David Herbek (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) and freshman designated hitter Tyler McFarland (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) also had home runs for the Dukes. Herbek’s home runs was his 10th to go along with his ninth double.

JMU’s 17-hit also attack included three-hit games for sophomore left fielder Johnny Bladel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge), who tripled, and sophomore first baseman Matt Tenaglia (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East), who broke out of a 2-for-43 slump at the plate. Sophomore right fielder Cole McInturff (Centreville, Va./Westfield) had two hits with a triple, scored three times and walked twice.

Starter Ben Tomchick took the loss for ODU to fall to 4-2. He allowed a season-high six runs on nine hits over five innings. Left fielder Shawn Sizemore had two of ODU’s four hits with a double and a run scored.

After a scoreless first for ODU, McInturff singled to start the JMU first. He stole second and scored on a blast by Herbek on the first pitch he saw from Tomchick. It was the first home run allowed this season by the tall right-hander.

The teams traded zeros until the bottom of the fourth when McFarland jumped on the second pitch he saw for a solo HR to right to make it 3-0.

McInturff tripled to center with one out in the fifth for the Dukes before Lowery crushed a no-doubt shot to right center for his 10th round tripper of the season and a 5-0 JMU lead. Herbek followed with a double, stole third and scored on a single by Bladel on a drawn-in infield.

In the sixth, ODU reliever Erick Baker walked the bases loaded with one out. He started Lowery with a three-ball count before Lowery took the green light and nailed his second homer in as many at bats for his second grand slam of the season and 11th home run. A pair of singles and a hit batter reloaded the bases. Tenaglia then dropped a single into center to drive in one and make it 11-0.

Valadja cruised allowing just two hits through the first 6 2/3 innings. ODU got a single and a walk then in the seventh and scored on a single through the right side by right fielder Nathan Hartman for an 11-1 score.

JMU proceeded to load the bases in the bottom of the seventh before a foulout down the right field line. The Dukes attempted a sacrifice fly on the play but the lead runner retreated. With the runner on second already most of the way to third, ODU was able to get both outs for the triple play.

In the eighth, JMU added RBI singles by freshman Joe Townsend (Lorton, Va./South County) and Tenaglia to make it 13-2.

GAME 2 – ODU 10, JMU 8

Just like Friday’s opener, ODU pulled out to a 5-1 lead before JMU made its charge back. This time the Dukes went in front with a four-run fifth inning to grab an 8-7 lead. However, ODU answered with a three-run sixth and relievers Dean Ali and Adam Wisniewski combined to allow one hit in the final four innings to close it out.

Starter Phil McCarthy was the winner despite allowing eight runs on 10 hits in five innings. Ali allowed just one hit in three innings of relief and Wisniewski tossed a 1-2-3 ninth for his sixth save and second of the series.

Chris Baker was 3-for-4 with a home run, three RBIs, three runs and a walk. Brandon Shelton, Josh Wright, and Nathan Hartman each had two hits while Joey Burney had a home run.

Reliever Sean Tierney took the loss for the Dukes to fall to 3-1 after allowing four runs on three hits in 1 2/3 innings.

McFarland was 3-for-4 with a double and two runs. Tenaglia had a three-run home run among his two hits. McInturff also had two hits.

The game started with the first two ODU batters going down before a single by Wright was followed by a double for Baker and a 1-0 lead.

In the second, Bladel led off with a walk but was then erased on a close caught-stealing call. That proved key as McFarland followed with a double

In the ODU third, the first two Monarchs went down quietly. A Wright single and Baker walk was followed by a two-run double be Sizemore. Burney then smacked the first pitch he saw off the left-field foul pole for a two-run homer and a 5-1 lead.

In the bottom of the inning, McIntuff hit a fly ball to right that appeared to be trapped against the wall but was called out on the play. Lowery followed with a double and Herbek hit a two-run homer, his 11th of the season, to make it 5-3. It was his fourth homer in the last five games.

In the fourth, JMU had one on and one out when Shaban grounded into a potential double-play ball. However, the throw to first got away to allow him to reach second. McInturff doubled to right center to drive in Shaban and make it 5-4.

ODU came right back in the fifth as Baker led off with a solo shot the opposite way to left field for a 6-4 score. The Monarchs kept the inning going with a Hartman hit by pitch and a deep double to left by Tutwiler.

With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Bladel walked, McFarland singled and both advanced on a double steal. Townsend then dropped a single into shallow right center to drive in one run. Tenaglia followed with his three-runs shot as the Dukes took the lead 8-7.

However, the lead was short-lived as in the sixth, a Shelton single and Wright walk was followed by a Baker double into the right-field corner to tie the score at 8-8. An intentional walk loaded the bases and a sacrifice fly by Burney put ODU back in front 9-8. Hartman connected on a double to left center to make it 10-8.

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