HARRISONBURG, Va., Apr. 20, 2013 – Georgia State struck for 10 runs in the fourth and fifth innings combined, built a lead of 14-7 and hung on to defeat James Madison 14-12 in the opener of a Colonial Athletic Association baseball series on Saturday afternoon to open a doubleheader at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.
GSU improved to 26-14 overall and 6-7 in the league. JMU lost its 10th straight game in CAA play to fall to 16-21 overall and 6-12 in the league. It was the fourth straight league game in which the Dukes led the opponent in hits but lost.
The loss spoiled James Madison’s first cycle in 13 years as junior second baseman Conner Brown (Richmond, Va./Godwin) went 4-for-4 with a walk, two RBIs and five runs scored. He tripled to lead off the second, singled in the fourth, socked a two-run home run in the fifth, doubled in the seventh and walked in the eighth. It was the first cycle by JMU since current Minor League outfielder Rich Thompson achieved it on May 12, 2000 against Richmond.
Ben Burns earned the win in relief to improve to 6-2. He allowed three runs on six hits in four innings. Matt Rose survived a hit and two walks in the ninth to post his fifth save. Sophomore Patrick Toohers (Florham Park, N.J./Seton Hall Prep) allowed nine runs on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings to take the loss.
Right fielder Chase Raffield was 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs for the Panthers. Left fielder Chris Triplett also had three hits. Center fielder Josh Merrigan, third baseman Caden Bailey, catcher Scott Sarratt and second baseman Greg Bowder each had two hits. Designated hitter Nic Wilson homered and drove in three runs.
In addition to Brown’s cycle, senior center fielder Colby Roberts (Benton, Ark./Benton) stayed hot at the plate, matching his career high with six RBIs while going 3-for-4. Senior shortstop Casey Goss (Springfield, Mo./Glenville) and senior right fielder Cole McInturff (Centreville, Va./Westfield) each had three hits as well.
GSU put runners on the corners with no outs in the second on a leadoff double followed by a single on a high fly to shallow left that eluded the shortstop’s glove. Wilson then lifted a sacrifice fly to center to score Triplett, however, redshirt junior first baseman Matt Tenaglia (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) cut off the throw home and retired the runner at second for a double play.
JMU knotted the score with a sacrifice fly of its own in the bottom of the second. Brown led off with a triple high off the 16-foot wall in right field. He scored one batter later on Roberts high fly to left to make it 1-1.
In the fourth, Bailey led off with a fly ball to left that dropped for a single when it was lost in the sun. He moved to third on a single to left with the batter, Triplett, advancing on the throw. Raffield then drove in both for a 3-1 lead on a double to the gap in left. Wilson followed with a drive to left center for his fifth home run of the year and a 5-1 score. After the bases cleared, the Panthers kept things going with three consecutive singles, the third an RBI liner to center by Merrigan to score the inning’s fifth run for a 6-1 advantage.
JMU responded in the fourth with three consecutive singles to lead off the inning, the last a sharp drive up the middle by Roberts to plate a run. McInturff followed with a double to right to make it 7-3. Senior catcher Bradley Shaban (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) and senior designated hitter Johnny Bladel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) added RBI groundouts to pull the Dukes within two at 7-5.
In the GSU fifth after two outs, JMU pitchers issued six walks and hit a batter to bring in four runs without a hit for an 11-5 score. In the bottom of the inning, Brown smacked a two-run blast to left center for his team-leading fourth home run of the season.
In the seventh, Merrigan hit a one-out triple and scored on shortstop Chad Prain’s RBI single to left for a 13-7 score. The Panthers went on to load the bases with two more singles and scored run number 14 on a sacrifice fly.
JMU scored once in the seventh as Brown reached the cycle with a double to center and scored on a double by Roberts. In the eighth, JMU got one run on an RBI single by Goss and Roberts added a bases-loaded double on a fly ball that dropped in left field.
The Dukes had a chance in the ninth, loading the bases on a double and two walks. However, with one out, sophomore left fielder Chad Carroll (Oakton, Va./Oakton) sent a slow roller to the shortstop with Carroll called out at first base on a close play for the double play to end the game.