HARRISONBURG, Va., Apr. 6, 2013 – Conner Myers’ three-run triple keyed a four-run fifth and Old Dominion held on to defeat James Madison 6-5 to clinch the series win in game two of a Colonial Athletic Association baseball series on Saturday evening at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.
ODU improved to 15-14 overall and 6-8 in the CAA. JMU lost its sixth straight overall and fifth straight in the league to fall to 14-15 on the season and 6-7 in the league. The game was played in front of a JMU season-high 1,001 fans on a clear spring evening. It was the third-best attendance in the four-year history of the facility.
The Monarchs held a 1-0 lead until breaking through with the four-run fifth. ODU tacked on one in the sixth to take a 6-2 lead before JMU rallied with three in the eighth, highlighted by sophomore Chad Carroll’s (Oakton, Va./Oakton) two-run double to make it 6-5. Carroll reached third base but was stranded there, and the Dukes were limited to a single in the ninth to fall in the one-run decision.
Andy Roberts did not allow a JMU hit until a bunt single in the fifth and earned the win after allowing two runs on three hits in five innings. Brad Gero retired four of the five batters he faced to pick up his first save.
Redshirt sophomore Michael Howerton (Chesterfield, Va./Matoaca) took the loss after allowing all six runs, five earned, on five hits in five innings. He struck out five but also walked five. Sophomore Ben Garner (Burke, Va./Paul VI) worked two scoreless innings of relief followed by one each from redshirt sophomore Luke Drayer (Hummelstown, Pa./Hershey) and junior Trent Cundiff (Roanoke, Va./Northside).
In addition to Myers’ three-run triple, first baseman Josiah Burney was 3-for-3 in the cleanup spot for the Monarchs. Third baseman Jordan Negrini was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Carroll was 3-for-4 with two RBIs for the Dukes as the only player with multiple hits for JMU. Senior center fielder Johnny Bladel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) went 0-for-3 to have his hitting streak snapped at 16 games, one shy of his career high, but he did draw a pair of walks to extend his reaching base streak to 25 games.
ODU scored in the first inning to take the lead as left fielder Josh Eldridge walked, stole second and scored on an RBI single by Negrini.
The 1-0 score held until the big four-run inning for the Monarchs. ODU loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth with a pair of walks followed by a bunt attempt with JMU third baseman Ty McFarland (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) ruled as missing the bag for the out on the fielder’s choice. Myers promptly unloaded the bases with a triple to left for a 4-0 lead. The Monarchs added run number five with a line-drive sacrifice fly by Eldridge.
JMU finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth, though it could have been more as Carroll led off with the first JMU hit of the game on a bunt single but was promptly picked off. However, the Dukes kept things going with a two-out rally. Junior designated hitter Conner Brown (Richmond, Va./Godwin) singled, freshman catcher Bobby San Martin (Fairfax, Va./Centreville) doubled and second baseman Casey Goss (Springfield, Mo./Glenville) walked to load the bases. Sophomore shortstop Tyler Duke (Troutville, Va./James River) and Bladel then drew consecutive full-count walks to drive in runs and make it 5-2.
The Monarchs responded in the sixth with a leadoff single by Burney. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and was off and running on a shallow single to center by Negrini to score the sixth ODU run.
JMU rallied in the eighth with Duke reaching on a bobble at shortstop to start the inning. Bladel walked to push Duke to second before McFarland doubled to score Duke. Carroll, the nation’s leader in triples, scored Bladel and McFarland on a deep double. He made the turn for a triple, which would have tied the JMU season record at eight, but slipped and retreated to second base. Carroll advanced to third on a groundout, but the Dukes stranded the tying run 90 feet away.
JMU will look to avoid the three-game sweep on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. with free audio coverage on MadiZONE.