James Madison returns to Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park this weekend to host Old Dominion in a Colonial Athletic Association baseball series. Friday and Saturday will feature 6:30 p.m. first pitch followed by a 2 p.m. start on Sunday.
The series will be the final CAA matchup between the schools before the Monarchs leave for Conference USA in July. All three games will be available on MadiZONE with audio coverage on Friday and Sunday and a live video presentation on Saturday, all available free.
There will be a number of promotions in place for the series, including JMU Faculty and Staff Appreciation Weekend with two free tickets to a game for all JMU employees with their JACard. Friday will also be Bingo Night with prizes. Saturday will be Pack the Park with free T-shirts for students courtesy of Madison Society. The finale will be a Sandlot Sunday with free admission for kids in eighth grade or younger who wear their baseball or softball uniform.
Coming into the weekend, the Dukes look to break their four-game losing streak, including a 9-7 loss at VMI on Tuesday and a Colonial Athletic Association sweep at Northeastern last weekend. The Dukes (14-13) sit fifth in the league with a 6-5 record. As a team, James Madison ranks fourth in the nation averaging 8.2 runs per game and fourth with 17 triples in just 26 games.
The Dukes’ senior center fielder, Johnny Bladel extended his hitting streak to 15 games at VMI. During the streak, he boasts a .509 batting average with a .658 on-base percentage. Bladel’s current .550 season on-base percentage at the halfway point of the season ranks second in JMU history and second currently in the nation, just behind the .551 mark by Virginia’s Mike Papi. His .471 career mark sits fourth in program history..
Scouting Old Dominion
JMU and ODU both fight to break four-game losing streaks. The Dukes sit third in the league batting .320 while they rank eighth with a 5.80 ERA. Meanwhile, the Monarchs enter the series seventh with a batting average of .269 and rank sixth with a 4.35 team ERA.
Junior Ben Verlander, the younger brother of MLB ace Justin Verlander, leads the league with eight home runs and ranks fifth with a .395 batting average. Right-handed pitcher and staff ace Dean Ali ranks third in the league with a 1.98 ERA and holds batters to a .196 batting average at the plate.
Old Dominion leads the all-time series 55-50-1. Meanwhile, JMU captured two of three games during last year’s series, which followed a 10-1 win to crown the Dukes Colonial Athletic Association champions in 2011. The two teams went from playing for the CAA title in 2011 to finishing 10th (JMU) and 11th (ODU) in the CAA a year ago.
Chris Huffman, So., RHP (3-5, 4.53 ERA)
Dean Ali, Jr., RHP (3-7, 2.61 ERA)
Michael Howerton, r-So., RHP (1-4, 6.92)
Andy Roberts, Jr., LHP (1-2, 2.70 ERA)
Patrick Toohers, So., RHP (2-3, 4.29)
Ryan Yarbrough, Jr., LHP (1-3, 4.87 ERA)