GREENSBORO, N.C., April 15, 2011 - Junior catcher Jake Lowery's (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) three-run double keyed a five-run 12th inning and redshirt junior Sean Tierney (Midlothian, Va./Clover Hill) tossed seven innings of dominant relief as James Madison rallied past UNC Greensboro 12-8 in a non-conference baseball game Friday night at the UNCG Baseball Stadium.
JMU improved to 24-11 while UNCG fell to 17-15. After not having played more than 11 innings in a game since February of 2009, the Dukes played their second straight 12-inning game after a 13-12 home win over Maryland on Wednesday. JMU is now 3-1 in extra innings.
The Spartans used a five-run fourth inning to grab an early 7-2 lead. The Dukes got two in the fifth and the score held at 7-4 going into the ninth. Sophomore second baseman Bradley Shaban (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) and sophomore right fielder Johnny Bladel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) each walked. With one out, Lowery delivered his first of two significant full-count hits with a triple down the right-field line. Senior shortstop David Herbek (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) lifted his second sacrifice fly of the game to tie the score at 7-7.
Tierney kept the Spartans at bay until JMU was able to break through in the 12th. Freshman third baseman Conner Brown (Richmond, Va./Godwin) and Shaban drew one-out walks. Pinch hitter Evan Scott (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) hit a potential double-play ball, but the throw pulled the first baseman off the bag. With a chance for the inning to continue, Bladel walked to load the bases with two outs. Lowery started his at bat with two balls before fouling off six consecutive pitches. The ninth pitch of the at bat made it a full count before Lowery finally connected on the 10th pitch on a double to right to score all three runs for a 10-7 lead. Herbek and redshirt senior center fielder Alex Foltz (Mathias, W.Va./East Hardy) were hit consecutively to load the bases again and sophomore first baseman Matt Tenaglia (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) delivered a dribbler up the middle to score two more for a 12-7 lead.
Tierney allowed a one-out solo home run in the 12th but finished the inning to improve to 6-1 for the season. He entered the game with no outs and two runners on in the sixth and proceeded to pitch the final seven innings, nearly twice his previous career long of 3 2/3. He struck out a career-high seven and allowed just five hits and a walk.
Lowery had four of JMU's nine hits and three of the four extra-base hits for the Dukes with two doubles and a triple. He drove in five runs for his sixth game of five or more this season and scored three times. Tenaglia was the only other JMU player with multiple hits with two and two RBIs. Bladel finished with a triple in three at bats along with three walks, an RBI and three runs scored.
Center fielder Drew Gehringer was 5-for-5 in UNCG's 12-hit attack. He had a pair of home runs, drove in three and drew a walk. Catcher Trevor Edwards also homered and drove in three. Right fielder Chris Barker had two hits and scored twice while designated hitter Ray Crawford had two hits and scored once.
Greg Smith took the loss for the Spartans after allowing all five runs in the 12th on just two hits. Warren Slack started and allowed four runs, three earned, on five hits over the first six innings.
Saturday's second game of the non-conference, three-game set has been pushed back from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. due to expected rain.
NOTES: The game was the first of eight straight on the road for the Dukes... each of JMU's last six victories have come when trailing as late as the seventh inning... the Dukes had not beaten a team with a winning record at the time of the game until their 21st win of the season but have now done so in three of their last four wins... Lowery's night bolstered his national-leading marks for total bases (eight more for 130), slugging percentage (.890), runs (50) and RBIs (59)... Lowery's sixth triple of the year tied him for third-most in a season in JMU history... Herbek's two sacrifice flies extended his JMU career record to 21 and gave him six for the season, one shy of the school record he's already posted twice... Herbek had his streak of seven straight games with multiple hits snapped... JMU's two triples in the game upped the team's season total to 21, already tied for third-most in program history... the Dukes, who lead the nation in thefts, had five steals in the game for 111 on the season, tied for fifth-most in JMU history... Tierney moved into a three-way tie for the CAA lead in wins with six, matching Old Dominion's Kyle Hald and Georgia State's Will Campbell.