Mason knocks off JMU

First baseman Zack Helgeson hit a pair of home runs and George Mason used a pair of four-run innings to post a 9-5 win over James Madison in the opener of a Colonial Athletic Association baseball series on Friday afternoon at Spuhler Field.

GMU picked up just its second win in its last 15 games to improve to 11-15-1 overall and 2-8 in the CAA. JMU lost its third game in a row to drop to 18-9 overall and 8-5 in the league.

Helgeson hit a two-run shot in a four-run first inning for Mason and added an insurance solo shot in the eighth for three RBIs. Second baseman Chris Cook and shortstop Brig Tyson each went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.

T.J. O’Grady improved to 2-1 after allowing two runs, one earned, on just three hits in five innings of work. Jake Kalish worked the last three innings for his second save.

Senior left-hander Alex Valadja (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Catholic) took the loss after allowing eight runs on eight hits in five innings.

Junior center fielder Ian Haynes (Danville, Va./Tunstall) went 3-for-4 with a pair of bunt singles, two runs scored and three stolen bases for the fourth time this season. Sophomore first baseman Matt Tenaglia (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) was 2-for-3 with a solo home run and a pair of walks. Junior third baseman Jake Lowery (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) also had a solo home run, his nation’s best 13th of the season.

For the second straight game, Lowery gave JMU a quick lead as the second batter in the game. On Tuesday at Longwood he homered on the first pitch he saw. This time he worked the count full before sending a solo shot to right center for a 1-0 lead and just the third of JMU’s 49 long balls this season away from home.

The lead was short lived for the Dukes as Mason leadoff batter, Cook, smacked the third pitch of the game from Valadja for a solo shot to left to tie the score at 1-1. Mason kept things going with a double deep to centerfield by center fielder Dan Schafferman and a two-out single by third baseman Blaise Fernandez to center for a 2-1 lead. Helgeson then hit a two-run shot to left to make it 4-1.

In the third, Haynes led off the frame with a sharp single off the first baseman’s glove. He stole second, stole third and scored on a throwing error by the catcher on the throw to third to make it 4-2.

Mason got a leadoff single by Kalish in the fourth and a one-out walk. Cook then doubled off the wall in left to make it 5-2. Tison lifted a high fly down the right-field line and with freshman right fielder Joe Townsend (Lorton, Va./South County) having a long run to get there, he was unable to make the diving catch as Tison recorded a two-run triple. Tison then scored on a wild pitch to make it 8-2.

The score held until the sixth when JMU took advantage of a leadoff walk by Tenaglia. He stole second and moved to third on a groundout before scoring on a single up the middle by Townsend.

Haynes used his speed again in the seventh. He led off with a bunt single to third. He moved all the way from first to third on a wild pitch and then scored on a one-out wild pitch for an 8-4 score.

Tenaglia led off the top of the eighth with a no-doubt solo shot to right field to pull the Dukes within three at 8-5.

Helgeson hit a solo shot with two outs in the eighth off the batter’s eye in straightaway center for an insurance run and a 9-5 score.

JMU got a pair of leadoff runners in the ninth on another Haynes bunt single and an error, but the Dukes could do no further damage.


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