JMU snaps 10-game CAA losing streak in extras

jmu logoJunior infielder Ty McFarland (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) lined a single to left with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 10th to push James Madison past Georgia State 9-8 in the second game of a doubleheader on Saturday evening at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.

JMU snapped a 10-game skid in the CAA to improve to 7-12 but won for the third time in the last four games overall to reach 17-21.  GSU fell to 26-15 overall and 6-8 in the conference.  The Panthers defeated the Dukes 14-12 earlier in the afternoon.

After giving up a 7-1 cushion with seven unanswered runs by the Panthers.  JMU tied the game in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by senior right fielder Colby Roberts (Benton, Ark./Benton).  Sophomore Chris Huffman (Fort Defiance, Va./Fort Defiance) entered in relief and kept GSU at bay to send the game into extra innings.

In the 10th, the first two JMU batters went down quietly.  However, senior center fielder Johnny Bladel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) kept the inning alive when he worked back from a one-ball, two-strike count to earn a walk.  Senior shortstop Casey Goss (Springfield, Mo./Glenville) then drew a four-pitch walk to chase Jerry Stuckey after 85 pitches in relief.

Matt Rose, who earned the save in the first game of the day, entered and loaded the bases as junior second basemanConner Brown (Richmond, Va./Godwin) drew a full-count free pass.  McFarland fell behind before lining a clean single to left on a one-ball, two-strike pitch for JMU’s first CAA win since March 24.

Huffman worked three scoreless frames in relief to earn the win after allowing two hits and a walk in three innings.  Over the last four games, he has a win and two saves in five scoreless innings of work.  Starter Michael Howerton (Chesterfield, Va./Matoaca) was sharp early, facing the minimum number of batters over the first eight outs, before surrendering seven runs on eight hits in five innings.

Stuckey took the loss to fall to 3-2.  Starter Garrett Ford allowed seven runs, five earned, on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings.

McFarland finished 2-for-5 with a walk, two runs and the game-winning RBI.  Roberts also had two hits with two runs and an RBI, improving his average to .714 (10-for-14) over the last four games.  Goss also had two hits while sophomore third baseman Tyler Duke (Troutville, Va./James River) had a double, two runs and two RBIs.  Bladel reached four times with a double, run, RBI and three walks.  Brown doubled and walked twice to reach base eight times on the day, including the first cycle at JMU in 13 years in the first game of the doubleheader.

All of Georgia State’s damage came from the bottom of the order as the sixth through ninth batters each had two hits in the Panthers’ 12-hit effort.  Second baseman Drew Shields was 2-for-3 with three RBIs.  Catcher Joey Roach was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a home run.  First baseman Nic Wilson and right fielder Mark Hogan also had two hits.

JMU scored first in the second inning with a single and an error putting two runners on with no outs.  With one out, freshman catcher Bobby San Martin (Fairfax, Va./Centreville) singled through the left side to score one and Bladel’s RBI groundout made it 2-0.

Roach rocketed a solo shot for GSU in the top of the third.  However, JMU responded with a five-spot in the third as the Dukes deposited seven hits spread over the field.  A double by Brown and single by McFarland put runners on the corners, and Chad Carroll’s (Oakton, Va./Oakton) single to left scored JMU’s third run.  Following a bunt single by Roberts, Duke doubled to right center to drive in a pair of runs.  McInturff added an RBI bunt single, still with no outs, and San Martin hit into a double play to allow the seventh run to score for a 7-1 advantage.

In the fourth, Wilson delivered a sharp single up the middle to plate a run to cut it to 7-2.  Hogan followed with another sharp liner up the middle to drive in a run to make it 7-3. Shields kept things going with a two-run double to left for a 7-5 score.

The Panthers kept the comeback going in the sixth as Shields singled to center with two on to plate one run and Roach followed with an RBI single to tie the game.  With runners on the corners and one out, JMU was poised to end the inning on a strikeout, caught stealing double play.  However, the runner going to second held up to get in a rundown and allow the go-ahead run to score from third.

JMU fought back to tie the game at 8-8 in the seventh without the aid of a hit.  McFarland walked and moved to second on a groundout.  After reaching third on a wild pitch, he came in to score on Roberts’ sacrifice fly to left field.

The teams will wrap up the series Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. on Justin Brown Day.  The Dukes will honor the young cancer survivor and team member through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation with a pregame first pitch. All kids 17 and under receive free admission in Justin’s honor.

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