San Martin’s walk-off blast gives JMU sweep
Freshman catcher Bobby San Martin (Fairfax, Va./Centreville) lifted a two-out, two-run blast to left field to cap a wild back-and-forth finish and make James Madison an 11-9 winner in 11 innings over Hartford, completing a four-game weekend baseball sweep on Sunday afternoon at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.
JMU improved to 6-6 overall with its longest winning streak since taking 10 in a row late in the 2011 season. It is also Madison’s first four-game sweep since opening the 2011 campaign by taking four against Bucknell. Hartford fell to 0-8.
Senior second baseman Casey Goss (Springfield, Mo./Glenville) started the 11th with a four-pitch walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. After a strikeout for two outs, San Martin drilled a two-ball, one-strike offering from Alex Gouin over the fence in left for the instant win. The rookie now has two home runs among his three career hits after also homering Saturday against the Hawks for his first collegiate hit.
The scenario was set up thanks to a five-run rally by Hartford in the ninth. The Dukes led 8-3 heading into the final inning before the Hawks loaded the bases with one out on a walk, an error and an infield single. Consecutive walks and hit batters plated two to make it 8-5. A passed ball and an RBI groundout by catcher James Alfonso made it a one-run game. Down to their final out, JMU appeared to grab the win on a popup to the left side of the infield. However, the ball landed safely between the third baseman and shortstop for an error to allow the tying run to score.
Freshman right-hander Mark Gunst (Fairfax, Va./Paul VI) worked the 11th to pick up his first collegiate victory. Redshirt sophomore Michael Howerton (Chesterfield, Va./Matoaca) allowed three runs in six innings as the starter and turned over a 6-3 lead to the bullpen. Sophomore left-hander Aaron Hoover (Centreville, Va./Westfield) retired six in order before running into the ninth-inning trouble with the aid of two errors.
Gouin (0-2) took the loss after entering in the 11th and allowing two runs on the one hit, San Martin’s round tripper. Starter Ryan Lukach allowed six runs on five hits in 1 2/3 innings and was chased in the midst of a six-run second for the Dukes. Brian Murphy and Jeremy Charles combined for 5 1/3 innings of two-hit relief to give the Hawks the chance to rally.
Six Dukes had multiple hits in JMU’s 15-hit attack with San Martin going 2-for-2 as a late substitution. Redshirt junior first baseman Matt Tenaglia (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) had two hits and two RBIs. Sophomore right fielder Chad Carroll (Oakton, Va./Oakton) doubled and tripled. Goss had two hits, a walk and scored three times. Junior catcher Nick Merullo (Madison, Conn./Daniel Hand) had a three-run double.
Second baseman Trey Stover was 3-for-4 with a walk and three runs to lead Hartford’s 13-hit effort. First baseman Brady Sheetz was 2-for-4 with a double, two runs and two RBIs. Left fielder Adam Touhey, center fielder Chris DelDebbio and right fielder Brian Estevez also had multiple hits.
Both teams had chances to claim the win prior to San Martin’s shot. JMU put runners on the corners with one out in the bottom of the ninth as Carroll doubled and Goss reached on an infield single. However, a fouled attempt at a bunt with two strikes and a groundout ended the inning to send the game to extra innings.
Hartford mounted a two-out rally in the 10th to take its first lead of the game. With a runner on first, Stover singled through the left side to move shortstop Aaron Wilson into scoring position. Sheetz followed by dropping a single into center field to score Wilson with the go-ahead run.
Facing the possibility of defeat, JMU staged its own two-out rally in the bottom of the frame. With nobody on base, junior third baseman Ty McFarland (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) and junior designated hitter Conner Brown (Richmond, Va./Godwin) singled on consecutive pitches to put runners on the corners. Tenaglia then singled to right on a 2-1 pitch to score the tying run and keep the Dukes alive.
JMU broke on top early in a big way with the six-run second inning. The Dukes loaded the bases on singles by Goss and sophomore shortstop Tyler Duke (Troutville, Va./James River) followed by a walk by McInturff. Merullo then unloaded the bases with a double to the gap in right center, still with no outs. Merullo scored on a wild pitch and Tenaglia followed with an RBI single to score Brown. Carroll made it a six-run inning with an RBI triple to left to score Tenaglia.
Hartford loaded the bases in the third on a pair of singles and a walk. Walker lifted a sacrifice fly to the warning track in right to score the first run of the game for the Hawks. DelDebbio followed with a single to right to make it 6-2.
After a scoreless fourth, Hartford put two in scoring position with no outs in the fifth on a single by Stover and a double to left by Sheetz. Alfonso grounded out to third to plate Stover to make it 6-3.
JMU was held in check after its six-run in the second until the eighth. An error, a walk and a hit batter loaded the bases with one out. Senior center fielder Johnny Bladel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) grounded out to plate one run and McFarland followed with an infield single to make it an 8-3 advantage.
The Dukes continue non-conference action on Tuesday with a 4 p.m. home game against Radford.