HARRISONBURG, Va., March 4, 2012 - Junior catcher Bradley Shaban (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) lifted a two-run home run to right to give James Madison the walk-off 7-5 victory and complete a weekend series sweep of Lafayette on Sunday afternoon at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.
JMU improved to 5-5-1 for the season with the sweep and 5-3 on its current 10-game home stretch. The win was the 450th career triumph at JMU for head coach Spanky McFarland. Lafayette fell to 2-5 on the year.
The Dukes led 5-0 until Lafayette struck for five in the sixth to tie the score. The tie held until the bottom of the ninth as sophomore third baseman Conner Brown (Richmond, Va./Godwin) lined a double into the corner in left to begin the frame. With Shaban planning to bunt, Brown moved to third when new pitcher Sean McGrath sailed a pickoff attempt into center field. Now with clearance to swing away, Shaban cracked a two-run blast over the high wall in right for the game winner.
Following Lafayette's rally, freshman Chris Huffman (Fort Defiance, Va./Fort Defiance) entered in relief and shut down the Leopards on two hits with three strikeouts over the final three innings to pick up his first career victory.
Senior starter Evan Scott (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) was sharp for five innings before running into trouble in the sixth. He finished allowing two runs, one earned, on five hits with seven strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings before receiving the no decision.
Brown and Shaban paced the JMU offense with four of the team's six hits in the game. Each doubled and homered in the game with two runs and two RBIs.
Derek Gussaroff took the loss for Lafayette. He had shut down the JMU offense for three innings with no hits allowed until Brown led off the ninth with a double to chase him from the game. Starter Connor Ortolf allowed five runs, just two earned, on four hits in five innings.
First baseman Brad Hopek was 3-for-4 with a run scored for Lafayette. Right fielder Thomas Dunleavy was 2-for-3 with a walk while shortstop Brian Davilla also had two hits with a walk and an RBI. Andrew Ruck hit a pinch-hit three-run home run to tie the game for Lafayette in the sixth.
JMU struck first in the second as Shaban led off with a double to the corner in right. He advanced to third on freshman shortstop Chad Carroll's (Oakton, Va./Oakton) sacrifice bunt and scored when the next pitch bounced short and to the backstop.
The Dukes added a run in the third as redshirt freshman first baseman Ryan Kilmon (Virginia Beach, Va./Kellam) drilled his first career round tripper to left center, which was also the first hit of his career in his fifth at bat, to make it 2-0. After senior right fielder Ian Haynes (Danville, Va./Tunstall) reached on an error, Brown smacked a two-run shot just left of the batter's eye in center field to make it 4-0.
JMU manufactured a run in the fourth as Carroll led off with a single to center and moved to second on a passed ball. He reached third on a groundout before scoring on another groundout by junior designated hitter Billy Logan (Greenup, Ky./Greenup County) to make it 5-0.
Lafayette put its first runs on the board in the sixth as Davila led off with inning with a solo shot to right center. Second baseman Kevin Casey doubled, moved to third on a Hopek single and scored when Hopek stole second with the throw getting away for an error. After a walk, pinch hitter Andrew Ruck greeted new pitcher Ben Garner (Burke, Va./Paul VI) with a three-run shot over the high wall in right field to tie the score at 5-5.
JMU wraps up its 10-game home stretch this week with a 4 p.m. game Tuesday hosting Virginia and another 4 p.m. game Wednesday against Mount St. Mary's.