Liberty 9, JMU 0
Four Liberty pitchers combined to allow one hit and the Flames scored in seven of eight turns at the plate to shut out James Madison 9-0 in a non-conference baseball game Wednesday afternoon at Worthington Stadium.
Liberty snapped a brief two-game losing skid to improve to 17-3 overall. The Flames, who defeated the Dukes for just the second time in the last 11 meetings, recorded their seventh shutout in 20 games this season. JMU dropped its sixth game in a row to fall to 5-11-1.
Starter Carson Herndon allowed the only JMU hit and struck out five in his five innings of work. Daniel Brown tossed the sixth and seventh innings before Danny Grauer and Ashton Perritt threw one inning apiece.
The four Liberty hurlers combined to limit JMU to its fewest hits since being no-hit by Northeastern ace Adam Ottavino on April 7, 2006. The Dukes were also shutout for the first time since posting two hits in a 6-0 home loss to UNCW on April 17, 2010.
Center fielder Andy Smith and second baseman Bryan Aanderud each had two hits and combined to score five runs for the Flames. Designated hitter Tyler Cox doubled and drove in three runs for the game. Shortstop Zack Haley was 2-for-4 with a double, run scored and an RBI.
Five total batters reached base for the Dukes while Liberty pitchers faced four batters over the minimum. Sophomore third baseman Conner Brown (Richmond, Va./Godwin) had the only hit with a single and a walk. Junior left fielder Colby Roberts (Benton, Ark./Benton) reached twice via walks.
Junior Nick Slogik (Strongsville, Ohio/St. Edward) took the loss as the first of eight pitchers in the game for the Dukes. Senior Josh Futter (Columbia, Md./Wilde Lake) moved into the top 10 in career pitching appearances with his 65th game on the mound.
Liberty jumped on the scoreboard quickly as left fielder Ian Parmley drew a five-pitch walk in the leadoff spot. He was running on the next pitch on a hit and run play. Smith’s grounder went under the glove of the second baseman, who had been moving towards second, and the ball found the gap in right center as Parmley came all the way around to score on the play. Two consecutive groundouts then pushed Smith around the bases to score and make it 2-0.
After the only scoreless inning for the Flames in the second, they added to the lead in the third as Parmley again got things started with a single through the left side. Aanderud singled up the middle to put two runners on with two outs before Cox hit a deep double over Roberts’ head to the warning track in left to clear the bases for a 4-0 lead.
A pair of two-out hits in the fourth added another run as Perritt reached on a bunt single with the first baseman just missing the tag. Perritt stole second and came in to score on a single up the middle by Haley to make it 5-0.
Liberty kept up the assault with a leadoff single by Aanderud. He moved to second as freshman Chad Carroll (Oakton, Va./Oakton) made a diving stop of a hard-hit ball to shortstop to get the out at first. Close hit a hard liner off the arm of new JMU pitcher, freshman Cody Miller (Westlake, Ohio/Padua Franciscan), to put runners on the corners. Third baseman Josh Richardson then topped a ball just in front of the plate with sophomore Nick Merullo (Madison, Conn./Daniel Hand) making the play at first for the out with Aanderud then coming in to score on the play.
Liberty’s seventh run came in the sixth as Haley doubled inside the third base bag. With two outs, Smith reached on an error when Carroll’s throw to first sailed high. That allowed Haley to come around from second to score the unearned run.
The Flames added another run in the seventh as two batters reached via walks. A fielding error at second base allowed an unearned run to make it 8-0. A Smith single and McClendon RBI double added the final run in the eighth to make it 9-0.
JMU returns home after four straight on the road to host William and Mary in a three-game Colonial Athletic Association set this weekend. Games will be at 7 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.