James Madison baseball wraps up its six-game road swing this week with two more games against Radford on Tuesday and Longwood on Wednesday, both at 6 p.m. It will be JMU's first week this season with two midweek games.
JMU and Radford will meet for the first time after two games were cancelled earlier in the season on March 5 and 6 due to snow. The Dukes fell to Longwood 11-9 in their home opener back on Feb. 20.
The Dukes hope to stem the tide by breaking their 11-game losing streak, which included a sweep by William and Mary this past weekend. JMU led each game in hits but was hurt by errors and free bases. In the past four games, the Dukes have allowed 10 unearned runs on 10 errors while walking 19 hitting 10 batters. The 11-game skid has dropped Madison from a 14-9 mark to 14-20.
Despite the skid, JMU hit .333 as a team last week with five starters batting .375 or better. Infielder Casey Goss hit .529 (9-for-17) while outfielder Cole McInturff was at .462. In his first extensive action in the field this season, Conner Brown hit .438 with a triple, a home run, six RBIs and a .571 on-base percentage. Chad Carroll hit .412 with a double, a home run and eight RBIs. Colby Roberts started all four games and hit .375.
Radford (20-14, 7-5 Big South) is coming off a week of highs and lows. The Highlanders defeated No. 4 Virginia on Wednesday for its highest-ranked win in program history. The win extended RU’s winning streak to eight in a row. However, Radford followed that by getting swept over the weekend at High Point by scores of 11-5, 10-6 and 8-3.
The Highlanders are hitting .266 as a team with a .368 slugging percentage and .353 on-base percentage. Those numbers are boosted by the big bat of Jeff Kemp, who is hitting .319 with 12 doubles, 10 home runs and 32 RBIs. Josh Reavis (.327 average, .425 on-base percentage) and Josh Gardiner (.311) are the only other players over .300.
Longwood (17-20, 7-8) lost both games in a double header on the road at No. 25 Campbell on Saturday, 1-0 and 5-2, after taking the opener Friday 3-2. Combined with last Tuesday’s 7-5 loss at Virginia Tech, the Lancers have dropped three of four, albeit to opponents in the top 55 of the national RPI.
The Lancers are hitting .270 as a team with a .388 slugging mark and .322 on-base percentage in their first season in the Big South. Similar to Radford, three Lancer regulars are batting over .300, led by Alex Owens at .311 with 14 doubles and four home runs for 25 RBIs. Colton Konvicka is batting .303 while Scott Burkett sits at .300 with 10 doubles.
JMU leads Radford 25-20-1 in the all-time series, though the Highlanders have won seven of the last 12 meetings along with a tie. The last meeting was a weather-shortened 3-3 tie last May at Radford. The Highlanders also defeated JMU 8-3 last March in Harrisonburg.
JMU leads Longwood 13-9 all-time. However, following a 7-0 start for the Dukes, the Lancers have claimed nine of the last 15 contests, including four out of five. LU opened its 2013 season in Harrisonburg with an 11-9 win on Feb. 20. The teams split in 2012 with JMU winning 13-7 at home on Feb. 22 and falling 4-1 on the road May 15.
Tuesday, April 16, 6 p.m. (Farmville, Va.)
JMU – Johnny Bladel, Sr., RHP (0-0, 15.43 ERA)
RU – Dylan Nelson, Fr., RHP (4-2, 6.90 ERA)
Wednesday, April 17, 6 p.m. (Radford, Va.)
JMU – Luke Drayer, r-So., LHP (2-2, 5.26 ERA)
LU – Tyler Wislocki, So., RHP (1-0, 4.67 ERA)