JMU sweeps Bucknell

The James Madison baseball team continued showing early offensive prowess in its doubleheader sweep of visiting Bucknell, 9-2 and 26-15, Feb. 19. With the two wins, the Dukes move to 3-0 on the year with the Bison falling to 0-3.

In the opener, JMU broke on top in the first as sophomore Johnny Bladel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) blasted a solo shot over the right field fence in the bottom of the first to open the scoring. Bucknell then answered in the second with a home run of its own, as Drew Constable also went over the right field fence to knot the game at one.

The Dukes took the lead for good in the bottom of the third as sophomore Cole McInturff (Centreville, Va./Westfield) reached base on a fielding error by the second baseman. After a sacrifice bunt moved McInturff to second, Bladel singled to shortstop to put runners on the corner with one out. Redshirt-senior Trevor Knight (Charlottesville, Va./St. Anne’s-Belfield) then singled through the left side to score McInturff and give JMU a 2-1 lead.

Madison then scored seven runs in its next three at-bats, scoring two in the fourth, three in the fifth and two in the sixth to put the game away. In the fourth, McInturff again had an impact, as he scored freshman Tyler McFarland (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) on a triple to right center and then scored himself by stealing home. The steal of home was the first for the Dukes since late in the 2009 season. Senior David Herbek (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) had the big play in the fifth with a two-run homer to center field, scoring junior Jake Lowery (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) after his lead-off walk.

Bucknell did trim the lead with its single run in the top of the sixth, as Gerry Runyan singled to center with one out. Doug Shribman followed with a double down the left field line to score Runyan to cut the lead to 7-2. However, a ground out and strikeout ended the Bison threat.

Sophomore D.J. Brown (Locust Grove, Va./Orange County) had a career-high eight strikeouts in six innings pitched, scattering five hits and two earned runs in earning the victory. Trey Frahler (0-1) took the loss, going just 4.0 innings and giving up five earned runs and seven hits while striking out six.

The second contest saw the Dukes’ bats get going early and often, with eight home runs in the game. The hosts jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the bottom of the first, utilizing the long ball again. JMU knocked four out of Eagle Field, including redshirt-senior Alex Foltz (Mathias, W.Va./East Hardy) with two homers and four RBIs in the inning.

Bucknell put up single runs in the top of the second and third innings to cut into the JMU advantage, but the home squad came back with four more runs in the bottom of the third to again pull away. Back-to-back-to-back singles by sophomore Bradley Shaban (Midlothian, Va./Cosby), freshman Conner Brown (Richmond, Va./Godwin) and junior Ian Haynes (Danville, Va./Tunstall) scored the first run and put runners on second and third. Foltz was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. After a fielder’s choice out at home, Bucknell starter Ryan Ebner hit both Knight and Herbek to score two more runs. Sophomore Matt Tenaglia (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) then hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Bladel and give the Dukes a 12-2 lead.

The Bison answered in the top of the fifth with back-to-back home runs to center by Shribman and Scott Reed. However, JMU starter Alex Valadja got the next three to shut down the rally and maintain a 12-4 Dukes’ advantage.

Madison extended the lead further in the bottom of the fifth inning, tallying four more runs on three hits in the frame. Knight had a two-out home run to right, the 31st of his JMU career and moving him into the top-10 on the program’s career home run list. Herbek walked and Tenaglia singled to set up catcher Nick Merullo’s three-run blast off the Eagle Field scoreboard and make it a 16-4 JMU lead.

Bucknell had five more runs in the top of the sixth to again cut into the JMU lead. The Bison scored first on Runyan’s three-run home run over the right field fence. BU then followed up later with a two-run single by David Duffett to make it 16-9. JMU sophomore reliever Nick Slogik (Strongsville, Ohio/St. Edward) was able to get Matt Busch to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

Offense continued to be an impact, as both teams scored five runs in their next at-bats, with the Dukes getting five in the bottom of the sixth and Bucknell scoring five in the top of the seventh to make it 21-14. The Dukes put together five single runs in their stanza, while Luke Lombardi’s pinch-hit three-run homer was the big swing for the Bison in the seventh.

JMU put together a two-out threat in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases. However, the Dukes only managed to add one in the inning to make it 22-14. Madison put more insurance on the board with four in the bottom of the eighth, including a three-run bomb by freshman Joe Townsend (Lorton, Va./South County) to make it 26-14. Bucknell added one in the top of the ninth, but that was all the visitors could manage in the loss.

Foltz was 3-for-4 with two home runs, five RBIs and four runs scored, while Tenaglia going 4-for-5 with one home run, three RBIs and two runs scored for the Dukes. Valadja picked up his first win of the year, going 5.1 innings and giving up eight runs and eight hits. Ebner took the loss for Bucknell, giving up 12 earned runs in just 2.1 innings of work.


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