Home JMU earns rematch with UNC

JMU earns rematch with UNC

Junior right-hander Evan Scott (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) worked 7 1/3 innings and James Madison used a four-run second inning to defeat Maine 5-2 and advance to the championship round of the NCAA Chapel Hill Regional on Sunday afternoon at Boshamer Stadium.

JMU (42-18), ranked 28th by Collegiate Baseball, bounced back from its first loss in 11 games on Saturday night to eliminate Maine (32-23). The Dukes advance in the regional to face 10th-ranked and national No. 3 seed North Carolina at 6 p.m. Sunday night. The Tar Heels shut out the Dukes 14-0 Saturday.

JMU earned two wins in a NCAA regional for the first time since 1983, which was also in Chapel Hill. The Dukes will break a school record with their 61st game of the season Sunday night.

Scott, who improved to 5-3, allowed a pair of runs in the first and third innings but overall surrendered just three hits heading into the eighth inning. Maine put two on with one out on a double and a walk to chase Scott from the game.

Senior left-hander Alex Valadja (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Catholic) entered after a 78-pitch night Saturday against UNC. Facing a pair of lefties, he recorded a three-pitch strikeout and a flyout to get out of the inning. Valadja retired one more lefty in the ninth before sophomore D.J. Brown (Locust Grove, Va./Orange County) got the final two right-handed batters to finish the game. Brown had gone 7 1/3 innings on Friday to beat FIU.

Junior catcher Jake Lowery (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) added to his school record RBI (89) total with a two-run double in the four-run second along with a sacrifice fly for a key insurance run in the eighth.

Sophomore left fielder Cole McInturff (Centreville, Va./Westfield) was 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run. Sophomore right fielder Johnny Bladel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge), senior center fielder Alex Foltz (Mathias, W.Va./East Hardy) and freshman designated hitter Ty McFarland (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) eac had a pair of hits.

A.J. Bazdanes took the loss for Maine after allowing four runs on six hits, all in the second inning. Shaun Coughlin entered in the third inning in relief and held JMU at bay on seven hits until Lowery’s sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Shortstop Michael Fransoso led Maine with a double, triple, steal, RBI and a run scored. Right fielder Jeoy Martin had the other RBI.

After JMU stranded a pair of runners in scoring position in the first, Maine received a double from Fransoso in the first. He stole third and scored on a single to left by Martin.

McFarland singled to center to start the JMU offense in the second. Sophomore second baseman Bradley Shaban (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) reached on a popped bunt single to second base. Freshman third baseman Conner Brown (Richmond, Va./Godwin) put down a two-strike bunt to third base to advance the runners. McInturff tied the game with a single deep to the gap at shortstop. Bladel knocked the first pitch he saw for a single through the left side to give the Dukes a 2-1 lead. Lowery then doubled deep to the gap in right center to score both McInturff and Bladel for a 4-1 lead.

Maine answered in the third as second baseman Troy Black drew a one-out walk. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a two-out triple to right center by Fransoso.

Despite 11 hits, JMU was held off the board thanks in part to nine left on base until the eighth inning. Brown started the eighth inning with a single and advanced to second as McInturff beat out a bunt single to the pitcher. A deep fly by Bladel to center advanced Brown to third and another deep fly to center by Lowery for a sacrifice fly made it 5-2.

Maine threatened in the eighth as a one-out double by left fielder Colin Gay was followed by a walk by Black to chase Scott from the game. The Dukes turned to Valadja, who posted a three-pitch strikeout and a flyout to escape with no damage.



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