HARRISONBURG, Va., May 13, 2011 - Junior left-hander Sean Tierney (Midlothian, Va./Clover Hill) pitched seven strong innings and junior catcher Jake Lowery (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) drove in five runs to break the season RBIs record as James Madison defeated Towson 13-9 in the opener of a Colonial Athletic Association
JMU (32-17 overall) won its fifth consecutive conference game to improve to 16-9 in the CAA to stand alone in second place. Towson lost its third game in a row to drop to 25-24-1 overall and 14-11 in the CAA. However, the Tigers remained in fourth place thanks to losses by Delaware and Georgia State.
Lowery, who had already set the JMU record for extra-base hits in a season (now 48), added two more with a two-run home run and a three-run triple. The five RBIs gave him the JMU season record with 78, topping the mark of 75 shared by Kellen Kulbacki (2006) and Mark Brockell (1988). It was his seventh game of the season with five or more RBIs. His 22nd homer of the season put him two shy of Kulbacki's record and his eighth triple tied the JMU record held by Phil Fritz (1984).
Tierney battled through early jams to go seven innings and improve to 8-1 for the season, matching three other players for the CAA lead with eight victories. He scattered six hits and struck out five. He is now 4-0 in his last six appearances with a 1.35 ERA over 33 1/3 innings.
Sophomore first baseman Matt Tenaglia (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) had two hits with a double, two runs and a walk while extending his hitting streak to 17 games. Sophomore third baseman Johnny Bladel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) was 2-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored while senior center fielder Alex Foltz (Mathias, W.Va./East Hardy) also had a pair of hits. Sophomore Evan Scott (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) hit his second pinch-hit home run of the season with a two-run shot in the seventh.
JMU held a slim 2-1 lead after three innings before a pair of big innings gave the Dukes a big lead. A trio of two-out hits in the fourth added four runs before Madison then erupted for six runs in the seventh.
The Dukes carried a 13-2 lead into the ninth, which proved necessary when Towson used five walks and three hits to plate seven in the inning to account for the 13-9 final.
Charlie Cononie took the loss for Towson to fall to 7-3 after surrendering six runs on six hits in six innings with six strikeouts. The six runs were the most he allowed in a game all season as he entered the day with just 24 runs allowed in 71 innings.
Designated hitter Ben Winter was 3-for-4 with a double for the Tigers. Shortstop Nick Natoli was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a walk while first baseman Austin Harclerode also had two hits in the game.
JMU jumped on the board quickly in the first as Bladel beat out an infield single to third. Lowery jumped on a pitch the opposite way to left for his 22nd home run of the season to tie the season RBIs record at 75.
Towson struck for its first run in the third as left fielder Dominic Fratantuono sped into second with a leadoff double up the middle. He was sacrificed to third and scored on an RBI single up the middle by second baseman Pat Fitzgerald. Towson proceeded to load the bases with a pair of two-out walks, but Tierney recovered to strike out catcher Andrew Parker on three pitches to leave the bases loaded.
In the JMU fourth, freshman designated hitter Ty McFarland (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) walked and sophomore second baseman Bradley Shaban (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) was hit by a pitch, each with one out. Bladel then cued a single the opposite way just getting through the right side of the infield for an RBI single and a 3-1 lead. Lowery walked to load the bases. Senior shortstop David Herbek (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) worked the count full then lined a single just past the third baseman into left to drive in two runs. Tenaglia followed with an RBI single up the middle to extend his hitting streak to 17 games and make it 6-1.
The score held until the seventh when Tenaglia drew a one-out walk and Scott lined a pinch-hit, two-run homer to left to make it 8-1. A Foltz single and walks by McFarland and sophomore right fielder Cole McInturff (Centreville, Va./Westfield) loaded the bases with two outs. Foltz scored on a wild pitch and Bladel walked to reload the bases. Lowery then unleashed a triple to the corner in right to unload them for a 12-1 lead.
In the Towson eighth, third baseman Chris Wychock led off with a triple to right. Parker singled to left to drive him in for the second Tigers' run of the game.
Tenaglia led off the eighth for JMU with a double down the left-field line. He moved to third on a groundout and scored on a single through the right side of a pulled-in infield by Foltz.
In the ninth, Towson loaded the bases with no outs on a pair of singles and a walk. A walk by Rice brought in the third run for the Tigers. After a flyout, another run scored on an RBI groundout. Two more bases-loaded walks made it 13-6, and a single by Natoli combined with a fielding error unloaded the bases to make it 13-9. Sophomore Nick Slogik (Strongsville, Ohio/St. Edward) entered in relief to record the final out and preserve the victory.
With weather concerns in the forecast, Saturday's second game was moved up to a 4 p.m. first pitch from the originally-posted 6:30 p.m. starting time. The game will still be presented with free video coverage on MadiZONE and senior recognition will still occur at approximately 3:45 p.m.
NOTES: In addition to setting the JMU record, Lowery, who entered the game as the nation's leader in RBIs, total bases and slugging percentage, also climbed to a tie for fifth in CAA history with his 78 RBIs... he also moved to a tie for third with 13 career triples at JMU and tied Kulbacki for third in season runs scored with 68... Herbek's two RBIs moved him into fourth in JMU career history with 182... Scott's home run was the 72nd of the season for JMU to tie for fourth-most in a season as a team... the 2011 squad also moved into sixth in RBIs (416), ninth in total bases (416) and tied the record for team hit batters in a season (77)... JMU improved to 20-0 in games in which it scores in double figures.