JMU carried a 10-8 lead into the bottom of the ninth, but UNCW struck for two runs in the ninth and won on a Teddy Cillis RBI single in the 10th for a 11-10 decision in game two of the Colonial Athletic Association baseball championship on Wednesday afternoon at Brooks Field.
JMU fell to 17-35 and faced an immediate turnaround to face Northeastern in a 7:40 p.m. elimination game. UNCW improved to 29-25 and advanced to Thursday’s winner’s bracket game against No. 2 College of Charleston.
Trailing 4-1, James Madison struck for seven runs in the sixth inning with nine consecutive batters reaching after two outs in the frame. UNCW scored twice each in the sixth and seven innings to tie the game before RBI singles from senior third baseman Ty McFarland (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) in the eighth and ninth innings gave the Dukes a 10-8 lead.
The Seahawks got singles from two of its first three batters in the ninth and then scored on an RBI single by first baseman Andy Austin. Third baseman Steven Linkous then hit a fielder’s choice grounder to second to plate the tying run and send the game to extra innings.
After JMU went down in order for just the second time in the game in the top of the 10th, the bottom of the frame started with consecutive strikeouts by JMU right-hander Mark Gunst (Fairfax, Va./Paul VI). However, shortstop Ryan LaGrange picked up a two-out single and moved to second on a wild pitch. That set the stage for a drive to the gap in right center by Cillis for the 11-10 UNCW victory.
Both teams had 15 hits with just three of the 30 going for extra bases. McFarland tallied a season-high four hits with three RBIs. Junior center fielder Kevin Husum (Panama City, Fla./Bay) had his seventh three-hit game of the season. Freshman left fielder Josh Wyatt (Eden, Md./James M. Bennett), redshirt sophomore shortstop Kyle Weston (Penn Laird, Va./Spotswood) and senior catcher Nick Merullo (Madison, Conn./Daniel Hand) each had two-hit games.
Gunst took the loss for the Dukes after allowing the tying runs in the ninth and the decisive run in the 10th. Junior starter Chris Huffman (Fort Defiance, Va./Fort Defiance) made the start and allowed six runs, four earned, on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings.
William Prince picked up the win for UNCW, matching his longest outing of the season by retiring all four batters faced to improve to 2-0. He was the last of five pitchers in the game for the Seahawks. Starter Mat Batts allowed just one run into the sixth when JMU put together its two-out rally. He finished with six runs allowed on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Like McFarland, catcher Drew Farber also had a four-hit game for the Seahawks with two RBIs and three runs scored. Center fielder Casey Golden and Cillis each had three-hit games while Austin added two hits with three RBIs.
UNCW capitalized on a pair of JMU errors to grab a 4-1 lead after five innings with one run in the first, two in the third and one in the fifth. The Dukes scored their first run in the fifth on Merullo’s RBI double.
Batts retired the first two batters faced in the sixth before his high pitch count and patient JMU bats caught up. Husum started things with a single before senior right fielder Tyler Gregory (Dothan, Ala./Houston Academy) and Weston each fought from behind in the count to draw walks. With his pitch count over 110, Bats then gave up a three-run double into the corner in left by redshirt freshman designated hitter Brett Johnson (Charlottesville, Va./St. Anne’s-Belfield) to tie the score at 4-4.
With the score tied, Merullo picked up his second RBI of the day for a 5-4 lead. After a pitching change, McFarland picked up the first of his three consecutive RBI hits for a 6-4 lead. A walk reloaded the bases and redshirt senior Matt Tenaglia (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) plated two more runs for an 8-4 lead.
The Seahawks came right back in the bottom of the sixth with a pair of two-out runs of their own on Golden’s two-run single. UNCW kept pushing in the seventh with a leadoff walk and infield single setting the table for Farber’s RBI single and a fielder’s choice groundout to tie it. McFarland then recorded his RBI singles in the eighth and ninth to set the stage for the late Seahawk rally.
NOTES: Tenaglia played in his 200th career game… Michael Evans (Falls Church, Va./George Marshall) entered in relief in the sixth for his 26th appearance of the season, the second most by a freshman and fourth most overall in program history… McFarland’s six at bats pushed him into fifth in program history with 762… Tenaglia’s two RBIs moved him to ninth all time with 170.