HARRISONBURG, Va., April 12, 2008 – Redshirt junior Brett Sellers (Greencastle, Pa./Greencastle-Antrim) tied the game with a solo home run and redshirt sophomore Steven Caseres (New City, N.Y./St. Joseph Regional) scored the game winner on a wild pitch as James Madison University scored a come-from-behind 8-7 Colonial Athletic Association victory over the University of Delaware on Saturday afternoon at Long Field/Mauck Stadium.
JMU improves to 24-8 overall and 14-3 in the CAA. The Dukes are now 4-0 in walk-off games, 7-1 in one-run games, and 7-1 in conference home games. JMU clinched its fifth CAA series win in six series this season. UD drops to 11-21 overall and 5-9 in conference.
Delaware led 7-6 heading into the bottom of the ninth when Sellers blasted a no-doubt solo shot to left centerfield with one out. It was his 10th home run of the season and third hit of the game. Caseres and redshirt freshman Trevor Knight (Charlottesville, Va./St. Anne’s-Belfield) each drew consecutive five-pitch walks.
The Blue Hens turned to sidearm reliever David Slovak (Louisville, Ky./Eastern). He retired freshman McKinnon Langston (Tallahassee, Fla./North Florida Christian) on a short bouncer back to the pitcher, however the play advanced both runners a base. That proved key as Slovak, with sophomore Matt Browning (Mystic, Conn./Fitch) at bat, then threw the ball down in the dirt and through the catcher’s legs for just his second wild pitch of the season in 20 innings. Caseres scampered home from third and slid in safely for the game winner.
UD pulled away from a 2-2 tie with two runs in the fifth and three in the sixth for a five-run lead. However, JMU got one in the sixth, two in the seventh, and one in the eighth to set up the bottom of the ninth heroics.
Knight, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the sixth, came in to pitch in the ninth. With a bases-loaded, one-out jam, he struck out consecutive batters to maintain the one-run deficit. He improved to 5-1 on the season.
JMU pitchers struck out 13 batters for the second consecutive game. Junior Justin Wood (Dayton, Va./Turner Ashby) started and allowed three runs on six hits with three strikeouts. Freshman Turner Phelps (Roanoke, Va./Lord Botetourt) worked 4 1/3 and struck out eight but also walked six and allowed four runs on six hits.
Sellers finished 3-for-5 following a four-hit outing in Friday’s opener. He had a double, home run, RBI, three runs scored, and a stolen base. Caseres was 2-for-4 with a home run, two runs scored, three RBIs, and a walk. Redshirt senior Joe Lake (Elkridge, Md./Long Reach) had two hits and a walk. Knight doubled and walked in three plate appearances. Browning hit a solo home run.
Freshman Michael Londino (Annandale, N.J./North Hunterdon) took the loss for the Blue Hens. He allowed five runs on four hits in three innings and left with the go-ahead run on second base in the ninth. The loss spoiled a strong start by sophomore Brad Miller (Ellicott City, Md./Mt. St. Joseph), who struck out seven Dukes and allowed just three runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Senior Adam Tsakonas (Pottstown, Pa./Boyertown) homered and doubled with two walks, two RBIs, and three runs scored. Junior Scott Shockley (Milton, Del./Cape Henlopen) was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a walk. Junior Alex Buckholz (Millersville, Md./Old Mill) homered and walked, scoring a pair of runs.
JMU never led until the ninth inning in the game. The Blue Hens grabbed a two-run lead in the first inning on consecutive one-out home runs to left field by Tsakonas and Buchholz.
The lead held until the bottom of the third when Lake singled with one out and Caseres then smacked a line drive two-run home run with two outs over the scoreboard in right field.
Junior Kyle Davis (Ewing, N.J./Ewing) kick-started the Delaware offense in the fifth when his leadoff single bounced off Browning in left field for a two-base error. Phelps relieved Wood and sandwiched a pair of walks around a strikeout to load the bases with one out. Phelps then recorded another strikeout and built an 0-2 count on sophomore Ryan Cuneo (Freehold, N.J./Freehold), before he came through with a two-run single back up the middle. Phelps escaped further damage with a flyout to end the inning.
The Blue Hens expanded the lead in the sixth thanks to some wildness from Phelps. Freshman Pat Dameron (Dublin, Pa./Pennridge) walked, moved to second on a wild pitch, and reached third on a passed ball. He came in to score on a double by Tsakonas inside the third-base bag. After a walk by Buchholz, another passed ball moved both runners up a base. That proved key as Shockley came through with the two-run single that kicked off Caseres at first and into foul territory. The Dukes caught Shockley stealing to end the inning.
Knight pinch hit to lead off the sixth inning and nailed the first pitch he saw to left center. Consecutive hit batters loaded the bases. Londino entered in relief and freshman pinch hitter David Herbek (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) hit an RBI groundout. A popup ended the inning.
In the seventh inning, Lake led off with a single and Sellers doubled down the left-field line to set up second and third with no outs. Caseres then reached on a fielding error by Davis that scored both runners with one RBI on what would have gone as an RBI groundout.
The Dukes pulled within one run in the eighth on Browning’s solo home run. Delaware had a chance to pad the lead in the ninth. Shockley singled to lead off but was thrown out trying to stretch to a double. That proved key with the events that followed. Junior Ryan Reed (Milton, Del./Cape Henlopen) reached on a soft line drive that glanced off the glove of Langston for an error. A hit batter and a walk loaded the bases with one out. However, Knight entered and escaped with consecutive strikeouts to set up the dramatic bottom of the ninth.
JMU and Delaware will finish the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. Stay tuned to JMUSports.com should there be any weather-related announcements with rain in the forecast for Sunday.