LEXINGTON, Va., April 2, 2013 – VMI broke a 5-5 tie by scoring on a wild pitch in the sixth and padded the lead with three in the seventh to pull away for a 9-7 victory over James Madison in a non-conference baseball game on Tuesday evening at Gray-Minor Stadium.
VMI improved to 14-17 while JMU dropped its fourth game in a row to fall to 14-13 overall.
Center fielder Rob Dickinson, designated hitter Sheldon Shifflett and second baseman Thomas Stallings each had two of the 11 hits for the Keydets. Shifflett had two of the squad’s five doubles while scoring twice and driving in two.
Reliever Reed Garrett earned the win to improve to 2-3 despite allowing four runs, three earned, on five hits with four walks in 2 2/3 innings. Freshman Ben Garner (Burke, Va./Paul VI) limited the Keydets to an unearned run on two hits in 3 2/3 innings but took the loss to fall to 0-2.
JMU’s top two batters reached base five times apiece as senior center fielder Johnny Bladel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk two hit by pitches and three runs scored while junior third baseman Ty McFarland (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) singled in two at bats with three walks.
Bladel extended his hitting streak to 15 games and is batting .509 with a .658 on-base percentage during the streak. His current .550 on-base percentage at the halfway point of the season would rank second in JMU history while his .471 career mark would tie for fourth.
The Dukes also got a home run, two RBIs and two walks from senior outfielder Colby Roberts (Benton, Ark./Benton) and two RBIs from senior outfielder Cole McInturff (Centreville, Va./Westfield). The Dukes stranded 12 runners in the game and hit into two double plays.
JMU grabbed the lead in the first as Roberts reached on an error with two outs while plating Bladel, who had extended his streak with a leadoff double. However, VMI countered with five in the third. Will Connerley’s RBI double knotted the score and Dickinson’s single gave the Keydets the lead. Shifflett drove in two with the first of his two doubles and Brandon Angus added an RBI single.
The Dukes fought back to tie the score with two runs in the fourth on Roberts’ solo home run to right and sophomore Tyler Duke’s (Troutville, Va./James River) RBI bunt along with two in the sixth on a bases-loaded walk of McFarland and an infield single by McInturff. However, JMU left the bases loaded in both innings as well as having a runner retired at the plate in the sixth.
A passed ball and a sacrifice bunt helped push the go-ahead run to third base in the sixth for VMI, setting the stage for a wild pitch to plate the unearned run against Garner. The Keydets added three in the seventh, ignited by back-to-back doubles from Shifflett and catcher Matt Winn. Thomas Stallings added an RBI single and Drew Bryan drove in the final run on a groundout.
JMU scored twice in the eighth on an RBI double by junior first baseman Matt Tenaglia (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) and a sacrifice fly by McInturff, but Madison stranded two in the inning and couldn’t get anything going in the ninth.
After playing eight out of nine games on the road, JMU returns to Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park to host Old Dominion in the final series between the teams before the Monarchs leave the Colonial Athletic Association. Friday and Saturday will feature 6:30 p.m. first pitch followed by a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.