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JMU roundup: Keydets down Dukes in baseball


Daily Staff Reports - sports@nvdaily.com

LEXINGTON -- VMI broke a 5-5 tie by scoring on a wild pitch in the sixth and padded the lead with three in the seventh to pull away for a 9-7 victory over James Madison in a non-conference baseball game on Tuesday evening at Gray-Minor Stadium.

VMI improved to 14-17 while JMU dropped its fourth game in a row to fall to 14-13 overall.

Center fielder Rob Dickinson, designated hitter Sheldon Shifflett and second baseman Thomas Stallings each had two of the 11 hits for the Keydets. Shifflett had two of the squad's five doubles while scoring twice and driving in two.

Reliever Reed Garrett earned the win to improve to 2-3 despite allowing four runs, three earned, on five hits with four walks in 2 2/3 innings. Freshman Ben Garner limited the Keydets to an unearned run on two hits in 3 2/3 innings but took the loss to fall to 0-2.

JMU's top two batters reached base five times apiece as senior center fielder Johnny Bladel was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk two hit by pitches and three runs scored while junior third baseman Ty McFarland singled in two at bats with three walks.

Bladel extended his hitting streak to 15 games and is batting .509 with a .658 on-base percentage during the streak. His current .550 on-base percentage at the halfway point of the season would rank second in JMU history while his .471 career mark would tie for fourth.

The Dukes also got a home run, two RBIs and two walks from senior outfielder Colby Roberts and two RBIs from senior outfielder Cole McInturff. The Dukes stranded 12 runners in the game and hit into two double plays.

JMU grabbed the lead in the first as Roberts reached on an error with two outs while plating Bladel, who had extended his streak with a leadoff double. However, VMI countered with five in the third. Will Connerley's RBI double knotted the score and Dickinson's single gave the Keydets the lead. Shifflett drove in two with the first of his two doubles and Brandon Angus added an RBI single.

The Dukes fought back to tie the score with two runs in the fourth on Roberts' solo home run to right and sophomore Tyler Duke's RBI bunt along with two in the sixth on a bases-loaded walk of McFarland and an infield single by McInturff. However, JMU left the bases loaded in both innings as well as having a runner retired at the plate in the sixth.

A passed ball and a sacrifice bunt helped push the go-ahead run to third base in the sixth for VMI, setting the stage for a wild pitch to plate the unearned run against Garner. The Keydets added three in the seventh, ignited by back-to-back doubles from Shifflett and catcher Matt Winn. Thomas Stallings added an RBI single and Drew Bryan drove in the final run on a groundout.

JMU scored twice in the eighth on an RBI double by junior first baseman Matt Tenaglia and a sacrifice fly by McInturff, but Madison stranded two in the inning and couldn't get anything going in the ninth.

After playing eight out of nine games on the road, JMU returns to Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park to host Old Dominion in the final series between the teams before the Monarchs leave the Colonial Athletic Association. Friday and Saturday will feature 6:30 p.m. first pitch followed by a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.

Softball

HARRISONBURG -- Freshman pitcher Jailyn Ford s the Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week for the second consecutive week and the James Madison softball team received four votes in the NFCA/USA Today Top 25 Poll to highlight a busy Tuesday for the Dukes.

Ford's Rookie of the Week accolade is her third of the season and her fifth overall conference honor this year. She was also the Rookie of the Week on Feb. 26 and March 26, and the Pitcher of the Week on Feb. 19 and March 12.

She contributed both in the circle and at the plate in leading JMU to a sweep over Drexel last weekend. As a pitcher, she went 2-0 with a 0.72 ERA in two starts. She limited the Dragons to one run on three hits and six walks while striking out 13 in 9 2/3 innings of work. Opponents hit just .097 off the left-hander, with just one extra-base hit. She started the weekend with a one-hit shutout, giving up a bunt single in six innings pitched. She concluded the series by pitching the first 3 2/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits and four walks.

Ford also dominated at the plate, hitting .500 (4-for-8) with three extra-base hits, four runs and seven RBIs. Two of her three extra-base hits were home runs as she slugged 1.375 for the week. She hit a two-run home run in the first game against the Dragons before adding her first career grand slam to end game two. The Hot Springs native hit safely in all three games and ran her hitting streak to six games.

Hofstra's Erin Trippi is the CAA Player of the Week while her teammate, Olivia Galati, garnered Pitcher of the Week honors.

JMU received votes in a Top 25 poll for the second time in school history on Tuesday. It also received a single vote in the NFCA/USA Today poll on Feb. 26. The Dukes picked up four votes this week, tying them for 32nd in the country with in-state rival Virginia Tech.

In addition to its appearance in the polls, JMU is ranked 41st in this week's NCAA Ratings Percent Index (RPI), a modest drop from 37 last week.

On Wednesday, Madison puts its eight-game winning streak on the line as it travels to Chapel Hill, N.C. for a doubleheader with No. 25 North Carolina. First pitch at the Anderson Softball Stadium is scheduled for 4 p.m.

The Dukes are 19-6 away from home this season, including a perfect 7-0 in true road games. They have not played in North Carolina yet this season, but will play their next five games in the Tar Heel State. After facing UNC on Wednesday, JMU travels to Wilmington, N.C., to continue CAA play against UNCW on Saturday.



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