HARRISONBURG, Va., April 9, 2010 - James Madison rallied from an early four-run deficit to score seven unanswered runs and two pitchers combined to limit William and Mary to four hits over the final 26 outs in a 7-6 JMU win in the Friday night opener of a three-game Colonial Athletic Association baseball series at Veterans Memorial Park.
The win was the 1,200th in the 41-year history of the JMU program (1,200-757-8). The Dukes snapped a two-game losing skid to improve to 16-14 overall and 7-3 in the CAA. W&M dropped to 17-12 overall, 3-4 in the league.
"Every Friday win is a good win," commented JMU head coach Spanky McFarland. "Friday games are typically like this. We have a good Friday starter and they have a good Friday starter. Then they brought in, stat-wise, probably the best pitcher in the league in Matt Davenport and we tacked on against him, which was nice. Kyle Hoffman settled down after those first four runs. He did a nice job before Kevin Munson finished it up."
Redshirt junior Kyle Hoffman (Reading, Pa./Twin Valley) pitched his fourth straight quality start in conference play to earn the win and improve to 3-3. After allowing four runs to the first five batters of the game, he settled down to allow just one earned run on four hits the rest of the way. His 7 2/3 innings were one out shy of his career high while his eight strikeouts were also one shy of a career best.
McFarland noted that Hoffman settled in well after perhaps not being fully prepared from the beginning. He said, "I think he's pitched so well lately that maybe he came in a little overconfident. He didn't look like he was as competitive from the start as he normally is. Everything happened so fast, but then he picked it up a bit and carried some momentum through the next four or five innings. We talked about it after the game. Lesson learned."
Junior closer Kevin Munson (Roanoke, Va./Cave Spring) entered with the tying run in scoring position in the eighth and retired all four batters faced to record his sixth save of the season.
Sophomore Matt Davenport took his first loss of the season to fall to 5-1 after entering a 4-4 tie game and allowing three runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts. Logan Billbrough started for the Tribe and allowed four runs, three earned, in 2 2/3 innings.
Sophomore catcher Jake Lowery (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) reached base in all five plate appearances for JMU, going 2-for-2 with two runs scored and three walks. Freshman designated hitter Matt Tenaglia (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) had two hits, including a three-run homer, and a walk. Redshirt junior first baseman Trevor Knight (Charlottesville, Va./St. Anne's-Belfield), junior shortstop David Herbek (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield), and senior second baseman Mike Fabiaschi (Torrington, Conn./Torrington) also had two hits each. Junior third baseman McKinnon Langston (Tallahassee, Fla./North Florida Christian) smacked a two-run shot.
With 13 hits and eight walks received in the game, JMU had plenty of opportunities to expand the lead but ultimately stranded 13 runners on the bases. In the last three games combined, the Dukes have left 39 runners on the bases. The Dukes stranded eight in the first three innings alone. JMU struck out 13 times, including nine times looking.
McFarland noted that the strikeouts and runners stranded are issues the Dukes need to address. He stated, "It has been a common theme lately [struggling with the strike zone]. I wish we could do a better job with that, especially with runners on base. We have to find a way to put the bat on the ball. But we'll be able to break through soon and we'll be fine. We still managed to get the win tonight."
Center fielder Ryan Brown had three of William and Mary's seven hits in the game. First baseman Tadd Bower, left fielder Stephen Arcure, and second baseman Jonathan Slattery each had two-run hits for the Tribe.
The Tribe grabbed the quick lead in the game with a single up the middle by Brown, a walk by shortstop Derrick Osteen, and a two-run double to plate both by Bower, still with no outs. After a sacrifice bunt, Arcure sent a two-run homer just over the wall near the pole in right field for a 4-0 lead.
JMU loaded the bases in the bottom of the first on a single by redshirt senior right fielder Matt Townsend (Lorton, Va./Hayfield), a double by Knight, and a walk by Lowery, but three JMU batters struck out looking to prevent any runs from scoring.
The Dukes loaded the bases again in the second on three walks with one out, but another strikeout looking and a groundout stranded three runners once again.
JMU finally connected on a rally in the third. Herbek singled to left and Lowery executed a perfect hit-and-run, slapping a single through the empty left side with Herbek running. After a strikeout, Tenaglia hammered a three-run home run to right center for a 4-3 score. A double by Fabiaschi, a passed ball, and a walk set up runners on the corners. A balk then tied the score at 4-4 and chased Billbrough from the game.
In the fourth, JMU once again loaded the bases on a double by Herbek, walk by Lowery, and a single through the right side by freshman center fielder Johnny Bladel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge). Herbek scored on a double-play groundout to give the Dukes the lead 5-4. Langston then drilled a two-run home run to left field, his second of the season, for a 7-4 JMU lead.
After allowing the four runs among the first five batters of the game, Hoffman faced the minimum, with the aid of a double play, until the fifth when a pair of singles and a hit batter loaded the bases with one out. Hoffman recovered for back-to-back strikeouts swinging to end the inning.
In the sixth, designated hitter Chris Jensen reached with one out on a high pop up that Langston couldn't corral. Slattery followed with a two-run blast to left to pull the Tribe within a run at 7-6.
W&M put the tying run on second in the eighth on a hit batter and a groundout to advance. However, Munson entered and escaped with a strikeout before retiring the side in order for the ninth.
With the win, JMU improved to 8-2 in its new ballpark, Veterans Memorial Park, which will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday. More information on the grand opening festivities is available at JMUSports.com.
NOTES: JMU won for the 10th time in its last 14 games... the win snapped a three-game losing streak in the head-to-head series with W&M... senior left fielder Matt Browning (Mystic, Conn./Fitch) went 0-for-5, failing to reach base for just the second time in 30 games this season... Munson improved his JMU career saves record to 19 while his six season saves place him fourth on that chart... with his first inning double, Knight ran his current hitting streak to 20 games, one shy of his career high of 21 set last year... the game was the 12th in a stretch of 15 games against in-state foes with JMU improving to 8-4 in that span... the Dukes are 10-5 for the season against Virginia schools.