FAIRFAX, Va., April 3, 2011 - Trailing 7-3 after six innings, James Madison used a five-run seventh to rally in the late innings for the second straight day and defeat George Mason 10-8 to clinch the Colonial Athletic Association baseball series on Sunday afternoon at Spuhler Field.
JMU improved to 20-9 overall as the Dukes hit the 20-win mark right at the halfway point of the 56-game regular season. With their fourth win in five CAA series, the Dukes improved to 10-5 in the league to sit in a three-way tie for first. Mason fell to 11-17-1 overall and 2-10 in the league.
GMU scored two in the fifth and three in the sixth to stake a 7-3 lead. However, for the second straight day JMU had a late rally. On Saturday, the Dukes tied the game with one in the seventh and won it with three in the ninth. This time, the Dukes turned a four-run deficit into a one-run lead thanks to a five-run seventh.
After a hit batter, junior center fielder Ian Haynes (Danville, Va./Tunstall) tripled to left and sophomore right fielder Cole McInturff (Centreville, Va./Westfield) singled for a pair of quick runs. A walk and a hit batter loaded the bases and a ground ball for an error pulled the Dukes within one. Sophomore left fielder Johnny Bladel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) added an RBI single and a double steal scored sophomore first baseman Matt Tenaglia (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) for the lead.
The Dukes added a pair of runs in the ninth and survived a rocky last at bat by the Patriots to post the 10-8 victory.
Redshirt junior left-hander Sean Tierney (Midlothian, Va./Clover Hill) improved to 4-1 after pitching the final 3 2/3 innings and allowing a run but not allowing a hit. JMU won despite 10 walks issued, including six by junior starter Evan Scott (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield), who allowed four runs on five hits in five innings.
Mason starter Ryan Pfaeffle limited the Dukes to three runs on three hits over six innings while striking out 10. However, the bullpen could not hold the lead. Brandon Kuter allowed four runs, three earned, without recording an out, and Branden Bartlett took the loss after allowing the final three JMU runs and three hits in two innings.
Senior shortstop David Herbek (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) went 2-for-4 with his 12th home run of the season, a two-run shot in the first, along with his 49th career hit by pitch and three runs scored. Tenaglia also had a pair of hits, three runs scored, and a pair of steals.
In likely the final game of his highly-productive JMU career, redshirt senior Trevor Knight (Charlottesville, Va./St. Anne's-Belfield) pinch ran in the ninth and stole a pair of bases, including a straight steal of home for the third time in his career. Knight is scheduled to have surgery Monday. He is currently sixth in program history with 34 home runs and ninth with a .632 slugging percentage.
Shortstop Brig Tison had two hits with a double and five RBIs for the Patriots. Designated hitter Zack Helgeson also had two hits with a double.
Herbek gave JMU the early lead. After a hit batter, he socked his 12th home run to center field for a 2-0 score. His 32nd career home run and 161st career RBI each moved him into the top 10 in those categories.
Mason answered in the second as a pair of walks and an error loaded the bases with two outs. Tison singled up the middle to score two runs before ending the inning with a caught stealing.
The Patriots grabbed the lead in the fifth with a run scoring on a foul flyout to right field and another on an RBI double by Helgeson. The Dukes got one back in the sixth when Tenaglia singled through the right side, stole second and scored on freshman Tyler McFarland's (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) 11th double of the season.
GMU appeared to pull away in the bottom of the inning. A pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases with no outs before Tison cleared them with a double to center. A flyout pushed Tison to third with one out, but Tierney entered and retired the next two batters to hold the score at 7-3 and set the stage for the five-run seventh for the Dukes.
JMU added a pair of insurance runs in the ninth as Herbek and Tenaglia singled to put leadoff runners on the corners. Knight pinch ran for Tenaglia and stole seconed. After an intentional walk of Bladel, McFarland grounded out to first to drive in one run. With two outs and the bases reloaded, Knight took off for home to score the 10th JMU run.
Those two runs proved critical as Mason made it interesting in the ninth. With one out, Tierney walked three straight batters to load the bases. A fielder's choice groundout brought in one Mason run to make it 10-8. Tierney recovered to get a second straight fielder's choice to second base to clinch the win.
JMU will play its only midweek contest this week on Wednesday with a 3 p.m. game at Liberty.