LYNCHBURG, Va., April 8, 2008 – Five James Madison University pitchers combined to record the shutout in a 4-0 victory over Liberty University in a non-conference baseball game on Tuesday evening at Worthington Stadium.
JMU improved to 22-8 overall in 2008 and recorded its first shutout of the season and first since April 29 last season. The Dukes improved the nation’s second-best road record to 11-2. Liberty dropped to 14-16.
After having a pair of games rained out over the weekend, the Dukes sent five different pitchers to the hill against the Flames to combine on the shutout. They combined to tie the season low for hits allowed at four. Redshirt junior Kurt Houck (Gilbertsville, Pa./Boyertown) threw the first three frames with two strikeouts to pick up the win and improve to 3-1.
Freshman John Mincone (Dix Hills, N.Y./Half Hallow Hills East) threw 1 2/3 innings and was relieved by freshman Turner Phelps (Roanoke, Va./Lord Botetourt). Phelps worked 2 1/3, retiring seven of the eight batters he faced, including five by strikeout. Junior Justin Wood (Dayton, Va./Turner Ashby) and freshman Kevin Munson (Roanoke, Va./Cave Spring) each worked a scoreless frame to finish.
Redshirt freshman Trevor Knight (Charlottesville, Va./St. Anne’s-Belfield) belted a solo home run in the second inning, the first of his career, and went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Junior catcher Brett Garner (Burke, Va./Lake Braddock) was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.
Liberty senior Ryan Page (Cranberry Township, Pa.) limited the Dukes offense for the second time this season, allowing two runs, one earned, on three hits in six innings. Junior Kenneth Negron (Kingwood, Texas) was the only Flame to reach base more than once, going 2-for-3 with a walk.
The Dukes jumped on the scoreboard first in the second inning with Knight lifting a full-count pitch over the wall in left centerfield for his first career home run.
After Houck kept the Flames at bay for three innings, Liberty loaded the bases in the fourth with one out. However, Mincone got freshman Jeff Jefferson (Danville, Va.) to ground to freshman McKinnon Langston (Tallahassee, Fla./North Florida Christian) to start the five to two to three double play to end the threat.
JMU struck back in the fifth with Browning reaching on a one-out error. The error proved costly when Garner slashed a double to the gap in left center to score the unearned run.
The Dukes played small ball to plate a run in the seventh. Knight reached on an infield single and Langston walked. Browning laid down a sacrifice bunt down the third base line. With the play close at first base, Knight alertly headed home all the way from second and reached safely on the wide throw. Garner then laced a single to left to plate Langston for a 4-0 lead.
JMU will be back at home this weekend to host the University of Delaware in a three-game Colonial Athletic Association series. First pitch in the opener on Friday will be 3 p.m. A live video broadcast will be available on MadiZONE for Friday’s game.