With seven weekends of competition in the Colonial Athletic Association in the books, James Madison will step away from league action for a weekend non-conference set in a Presidential matchup against George Washington. The teams will meet for a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday in Arlington followed by a 2 p.m. game on Sunday in Harrisonburg.
While the series will have no direct impact on the CAA standings, it will still carry importance for the Dukes, who will use it as an opportunity to further evaluate players in key situations. That will prove key for setting up the final weeks with league series remaining at home May 10-12 hosting Towson and May 16-18 at Delaware.
Combined with graduation exercises the following weekend, the Dukes will actually have two consecutive weekends away from CAA action. They will keep an eye on several important league series during that time, beginning with first-place UNCW at Towson and Georgia State at Northeastern this weekend. The Tigers and Huskies are two of the three teams most within reach for the Dukes. The Seahawks can become the first team to clinch a tournament spot with a weekend sweep. The following week, NU is at UNCW while TU is at GSU. Hofstra at William and Mary will be another critical series that weekend as far as JMU is concerned.
For Madison, ideally the GW series will present a chance to continue positive momentum. The Dukes have won four of their last six with wins over Radford, Longwood and two against Georgia State. They also lost to the Panthers and most recently fell on the road Wednesday at No. 5 Virginia, 16-8. However, JMU showed resiliency after overcoming an early 5-0 hole and taking a brief 6-5 lead before being unable to stave off a potent Cavalier squad.
Colby Roberts and Conner Brown have been the key bats in the offense of late. Roberts hauled in six awards for his 12-for-18 week with 15 RBIs and followed that with a 3-for-4 showing at UVA. During his 12-game hitting streak, he is batting .532 (25-for-47) with 22 RBIs and eight multiple-hit games. Brown has seen elevated power numbers, batting .475 over the last 11 games with four doubles, two triples and three home runs while posting six multiple-hit games.
Scouting George Washington
Similar to JMU, GW (15-26) enters the weekend having won four of its last six following a lengthy skid, dropping seven in a row in early April. The Colonials snapped the losing streak with a 10-9 win in 10 innings against Towson and then took two of three at Fordham. This week, they lost at home to Maryland Eastern Shore 4-1 but rebounded to top UMBC 12-5 on Wednesday in Baltimore.
Also similar to the Dukes, the Colonials boast their league’s reigning Player of the Week as Justin Albright is batting .613 (19-for-31) as part of a current seven-game hitting streak. Owen Beightol is batting .342 during a nine-game streak. Overall, Albright is the lone starter batting over .300 (.310) on a squad that is hitting just .242 as a team.
JMU and GW resume a Presidential rivalry that typically featured a pair of midweek matchups every year from 1988 to 2009 with the teams meeting this year for the first time in four years. JMU leads the series 38-13 having won six of the last seven. In 2009, the Dukes won 10-0 at home on April 15 and triumphed 8-5 in Arlington on May 11.
Game 1 – JMU at GW, Sat. 1 p.m. (7 innings)
JMU – Michael Howerton, r-So., RHP (3-3, 6.52 ERA)
GW – Luke Staub, Jr., RHP (2-5, 3.86 ERA)
Game 2 – JMU at GW, Sat. 2nd game (9 innings)
JMU – Patrick Toohers, So., RHP (2-6, 9.06 ERA)
GW – Aaron Weisberg, Jr., RHP (4-4, 3.38 ERA)
Game 3 – GW at JMU, Sun. 2 p.m.
JMU – Johnny Bladel, Sr., RHP (0-0, 10.06 ERA)
GW – TBA