James Madison on Tuesday returns home for the first time since April 8 after eight straight games on the road to host Liberty at 4 p.m. in a rescheduled game from Feb. 29. The Dukes also make the short trip South on Interstate 81 on Wednesday for a 6 p.m. game at VMI.
The Dukes (13-26-1, 8-13 CAA) went 4-4 during the recent road stretch, which included series wins at Old Dominion and Hofstra as JMU has won seven of its last nine conference games. Meanwhile, Liberty (32-12, 10-5 Big South) will conclude a nine-game road swing of its own today and has gone 4-4 thus far in that stretch. VMI (13-26, 6-12 Big South) dropped the opener of a weekend series against Campbell for its eighth straight loss before rebounding for two wins to claim the series.
The Dukes are just 1-8 entering today in their midweek, non-conference games this season. However, the Dukes are coming off of a productive weekend at Hofstra. JMU took two of three games against the Pride by scoring a total of 46 runs, including matching their season high of 20 in Saturday's 20-14 triumph. Madison batters hit .370 and drew 29 walks and six hit by pitches to reach base at a .510 percentage. The Dukes also posted nine doubles and four home runs for a .546 slugging percentage. Previously, JMU had nine home runs in the first 37 games of the season.
Bradley Shaban hit .583 in the series and homered in each game of Saturday's doubleheader. Evan Scott hit .500 with 10 RBIs, including a three-run homer Friday and grand slam on Saturday. Chad Carroll (.467), Colby Roberts (.462) and Ian Haynes (.429) also hit over .400 in the series.
Despite cooling off a tad to go 4-4 on the current road swing, Liberty continues to enjoy one of the best seasons in the program's recent history. The Flames rank fifth nationally in wins (32), 17th in winning percentage (.727), second in hits (473), third in runs (318) and second in scoring margin (+3.8). The pitching has also been lights out with a 2.96 ERA. The Flames are second in the nation with nine shutouts, including one against JMU in March.
Bryan Aanderud holds a team-best .387 average with 42 RBIs. Andy Smith is batting .336 with four triples, six home runs and 28 RBIs. Ian Parmley is hitting .314 with 23 stolen bases while Alex Close has a team-best seven home runs. Zack Haley is hitting .296 with 16 doubles.
While VMI has posted a 13-26 record thus far and .263 team batting average, it has been boosted by the play of Jacob Morley. After going deep in each game of the weekend series at Campbell, Morley leads the Big South with 10 home runs. He also has 11 doubles and three triples for a .647 slugging percentage and 28 RBIs. George Piccirilli is batting .314 with 11 doubles and four home runs for the Keydets. The pitching staff has posted a 5.29 ERA.
JMU leads the all-time series against Liberty 36-30. The Flames have won a pair of meetings in Lynchburg this season, limiting the Dukes to one hit in a 9-0 win on March 14 and allowing just three JMU hits in a 5-1 win on April 10. The Dukes had won nine of the last 10 meetings before this year's losses.
JMU leads the all-time series with VMI 44-9. However, the Flames have won each of the last three meetings, including last year's 10-4 VMI win in Lexington and 8-2 Keydets' win in Harrisonburg.