HARRISONBURG, Va., May 13, 2013 – As James Madison prepares to host its final regular season home game on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. against Liberty, senior outfielder Colby Roberts (Benton, Ark./Benton) was recognized as Colonial Athletic Association baseball Player of the Week on Monday for his role in a key series win over Towson last week.
Roberts hit .400 (8-for-20) in five games last week, highlighted by delivering a one-out, walk-off, two-run home run on Sunday to clinch the series win over Towson and give the Dukes a lead of one and a half games over Hofstra for the final CAA Championship berth. His week also included three doubles, six runs scored, eight RBIs and four walks. He reached base in 12 of his 24 plate appearances for a .500 on-base percentage.
Roberts drove in at least one run in all five games last week and had a hit in four while drawing three walks in the only hitless game. He opened the week with the three walks, a run and an RBI in a 9-5 loss at No. 1 North Carolina and added a single and RBI the next day at UNC. He opened the Towson series with an RBI double in an 11-7 loss before posting a pair of big outings to key two pivotal league wins. He went 3-for-5 with a double, walk, RBI and three runs scored in a 16-3 drubbing Saturday followed by a 3-for-5 game with four RBIs, including the walk-off round tripper, on Sunday.
The week’s performance continued Roberts’ emergence in the second half of the season. Over the last 14 games, he’s batting .518 (29-for-56) with nine doubles, three home runs and 26 RBIs. His emergence has coincided with JMU’s turnaround from an 11-game losing streak midseason. Instead, the Dukes are 8-6 and batting .324 as a team thanks in part to the play of Roberts.
In Monday’s national statistical update from the NCAA, Roberts achieved enough plate appearances to show up among national leaders for the first time this season. He is now first in the CAA and third nationally with a .421 season batting average, ninth with a .682 slugging percentage and .20th with a .488 on-base percentage, right behind teammate Johnny Bladel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge), who is 19th at .490.
As a team, JMU’s offense ranks eighth nationally in batting average (.316), seventh in scoring (7.6 runs/game), seventh in doubles (2.29/game), seventh in triples (0.48/game), 12th in slugging percentage (.457), 18th in walks (232) and eighth in on-base percentage (.413).
Roberts picked up his second CAA award in four weeks. On April 22, he received weekly honors from the CAA, Collegiate Baseball, CollegeSportsMadness.com, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, the ECAC and CollegeBaseballInsider.com after going 12-for-18 (.667) with 15 RBIs in five games.
Liberty (27-24, 11-10 Big South) was swept in a trio of tight Big South Conference games over the weekend at No. 30 Campbell, losing 2-1 in 13 innings, 4-2 and 8-6. Prior to that, the Flames had split a pair of home games against Atlantic Coast Conference teams with a 4-2 loss to Maryland and a 4-3 win over Duke.
LU is batting .268 as a team but limiting opponents to a .264 average. Bryan Aanderud carries the team’s best average at .323. Danny Grauer is hitting .301 with 11 doubles, seven home runs and 38 RBIs. Trey Wimmer is batting .291 with 16 doubles and 33 RBIs while Ryan Cordell completes a potent offensive quartet at .286 with 10 doubles, six home runs and 36 RBIs.
The teams have split a pair of meetings so far this year that have featured a combined 48 runs. JMU claimed the first meeting 21-4 in Harrisonburg on March 27 before Liberty rebounded with a 12-11 win in 10 innings in Lynchburg on April 9. JMU leads the series 37-32.
JMU – J.T. Root, Fr., RHP (1-0, 6.06 ERA)
Root will make his first collegiate start in the 12th appearance of his freshman season. He will be the first of multiple expected pitchers for the Dukes.
Liberty has not announced a starter, but, like JMU, the Flames expect to throw a right-hander as the first of multiple pitchers in the game.