James Madison baseball will be back in action for the first time since April 28 when the Dukes visit Chapel Hill for a pair of midweek games against top-ranked North Carolina on Tuesday and Wednesday, both at 6 p.m. at 4,100-seat Boshamer Stadium.
Madison last competed April 27-28 with a three-game set against George Washington with the Dukes claiming two out of three. JMU rallied with three runs in the seventh inning of a seven-inning game and earned a 5-3 victory in 12 innings in the first game of a doubleheader in Arlington. The Colonials won the second game 5-2 in seven innings. JMU then emerged as 14-5 victors in the Sunday finale in Harrisonburg.
Since that time, JMU entered its break for semester exams and commencement exercises for an eight-day layoff between games.
The Dukes will stack up their high-scoring offense against perhaps the nation’s most balanced team. JMU enters the set ranked top 10 in the country in average (.318), runs (7.7/game), doubles per game (2.28), triples per game (0.53) and on-base percentage (.413).
The Tar Heels boast an equally potent offense, also ranking top 10 in average (.318), runs (8.8/game), slugging percentage (.476) and on-base percentage (.424) while also supporting that offense with the nation’s third-ranked team ERA (2.28) and seventh-ranked WHIP (1.10).
North Carolina enters the weekend with the nation’s top winning percentage with a 42-4 record. The Tar Heels sit No. 1 in three of the five major national polls (Baseball America, Perfect Game, USA Today Coaches) in a tight battle for the top spot with Vanderbilt. UNC is also the nation’s No. 1 team in the official NCAA RPI released Tuesday.
Carolina is 30-3 at home this season and 23-1 in non-conference games, with the only loss coming two weeks ago at home against fellow Colonial Athletic Association member UNCW.
To date, infielder Colin Moran leads the nation with both 61 runs scored and 74 runs batted in while batting .389 with 12 home runs. Skye Bolt boasts the team’s top average at .392 with 10 doubles and six home runs. Cody Stubbs completes a potent trio with a .378 average, 19 doubles and 61 RBIs.
North Carolina leads the all-time series 9-2. The teams most recently met twice in the 2011 NCAA Chapel Hill Regional at Boshamer Stadium with the Tar Heels claiming a 14-0 victory in the winners’ game on day two and then winning the regional and ending Madison’s season with a 9-3 win. UNC has won eight straight in the series dating back to 2001. JMU’s two wins came in 1977 and 1991.
The Dukes last played the nation’s No. 1 team with a 6-3 home loss against Virginia on March 17, 2010. That was the first home night game in program history and was played in front of a program-record crowd of 1,815. JMU has never defeated the nation’s top-ranked team.
Tuesday, May 7, 6 p.m.
JMU - Patrick Toohers, So., RHP (2-7, 8.61 ERA)
UNC - Hobbs Johnson, Jr., LHP (3-0, 2.20 ERA)
Wednesday, May 8, 6 p.m.
JMU - Michael Church,Fr., RHP (4-1, 6.19 ERA)
UNC - Chris Munnelly, Sr., RHP (4-0, 2.37 ERA) or Reilly Hovis, Fr., RHP (1-0, 2.84 ERA)