Having halted an 11-game losing streak with a pair of resilient midweek victories, James Madison will look to continue momentum in the positive direction this weekend by welcoming Georgia State to Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park for a Colonial Athletic Association baseball series.
**UPDATE** Due to forecasted severe weather conditions, Friday's opener has been postponed to Saturday. The teams will play a doubleheader at 2 p.m. with the second game to follow 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first. Sunday's finale will occur at 1 p.m.**
JMU has a number of fan promotions in place for the series. Saturday will feature a Take a Kid to the Game promotion with free admission for every adult/child pair that enters the gate together. Sunday is Justin Brown Day, recognizing JMU’s honorary team member through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation. Justin will throw out the first pitch, and all kids 17 and under receive free admission in Justin’s honor.
Having come close on a number of occasions, JMU finally broke through with key performances in pressure situations late in games to pull out the two midweek wins. In the team’s 35th game of the season, Madison rallied from behind in the late innings for the first time this year, picking up a three-run double from senior outfielder Colby Roberts in the ninth inning to turn a 6-5 deficit into an 8-6 lead at Radford on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday at Longwood, the game was tied 3-3 after six and 4-4 after eight before Madison ultimately pulled out the victory in the 10th, another two-run margin.
Chris Huffman moved back to the bullpen to close both victories after a brief stint in the starting rotation for a pair of league series. His fifth and sixth saves of the season moved him into fifth on the season leaderboard.
Scouting Georgia State
On paper, JMU and GSU are close reflections of each other. Both are teams that rank highly on the national stage in multiple offensive categories while both also sit with staff ERAs well over five runs per nine innings.
The Panthers lead the nation with 461 hits while also ranking second with 310 runs, third with a .326 team batting average and fifth averaging 7.9 runs per game. JMU also ranks in the top 15 in the nation in each of those four categories out of 296 teams in Division I. The Dukes average 7.5 runs per game with a .314 team average, 271 runs and 402 hits.
GSU boasts eight starters batting .307 or better while JMU has seven starters at .324 or better. Chad Prain leads the way for the Panthers, hitting a robust .435 with 13 doubles and 38 RBIs. Caden Bailey is hitting .386 while Chase Raffield provides the power boost, hitting .333 with 14 doubles and seven of the team’s 23 home runs.
JMU leads GSU 17-6 in the all-time series as the teams meet for the final time in Colonial Athletic Association play with the Panthers headed to the Sun Belt Conference. The Dukes won 15 out of 16 against the Panthers until 2011 with GSU taking four of the last six games. Last year, Madison dropped the first two games before then halting its school-record 12-game losing streak with a 15-13 Sunday win in Panthersville.
Game 1 – Saturday, April 20, 2 p.m.
JMU – Patrick Toohers, So., RHP (2-5, 8.18 ERA)
GSU – Nathan Bates, Fr., RHP (2-1, 2.18 ERA)
Game 2 – Saturday, April 20, 30 minutes after Game 1
JMU – Michael Howerton, r-So., RHP (3-3, 5.82 ERA)
GSU – Garrett Ford, Fr., LHP (3-3, 5.40 ERA)
Game 3 – Sunday, April 21, 1 p.m.
JMU – TBA
GSU – Andrew Fessler, Jr., LHP (3-1, 2.22 ERA)