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LYNCHBURG -- James Madison University matched a season-high with four errors, including two in the bottom of the 10th inning , as Liberty pulled out a 12-11 non-conference baseball victory in extra innings on a controversial bases-loaded hit by pitch on Tuesday night at the Liberty Baseball Stadium.
Liberty, which never led until the game's final play, improved to 18-15 after entering the game having lost eight of its last 10 games, including a 21-4 setback in Harrisonburg on March 27. JMU fell to 14-17 with its eighth loss in a row.
Madison led 6-0 in the early stages of the game and still sat in front 9-4 when the Flames put up a four spot in the fifth. The Dukes tacked on a run in the sixth but Liberty rallied with one in the eighth followed by a tying run in the ninth, which scored unearned as the leadoff batter reached via a throwing error.
The Dukes reclaimed the lead in the 10th. After loading the bases with one out on a pair of walks and a single, freshman catcher Bobby San Martin lifted a sacrifice fly to right for the 11-10 lead. JMU had a chance for more with a runner advancing to third on the play but a strikeout ended the frame.
Liberty again put a leadoff runner on in unconventional fashion in the 10th, this time when a JMU fielder lost a fly ball in the lights for a double. A single with a misplay in center field allowed the run to score on the next batter. A throwing error then allowed the third batter to reach, and an intentional walk loaded the bases with no outs.
Freshman pitcher Mark Gunst drew a flyout and lineout to retire the next two batters. However, the umpire ruled that the next offering bounced and barely brushed against Nick Paxton's leg for the game-winning hit by pitch via an unearned run.
Gunst (1-1) took the loss after allowing two runs, one earned on two hits in the 10th. Ashton Perritt improved to 2-0 for Liberty after allowing the one run on a hit and two walks in the 10th.
HARRISONBURG -- After leading James Madison to its third 21-win season in five years and first Colonial Athletic Association championship and NCAA Tournament appearance in 19 years, head coach Matt Brady was announced Tuesday as the State Coach of the Year by the Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID).
Brady won the honor for the University Division, which is comprised of all state institutions competing at the Division I level. The award is selected by member sports information directors at all levels throughout the state. In addition to Brady, redshirt senior point guard Devon Moore was named Second Team All-State. The VaSID honor came one week after Brady was named NABC District 10 Co-Coach of the Year while Moore was also All-District Second Team.
JMU's CAA title and NCAA appearance were each the first for the school since 1994. The Dukes (21-15 overall, 11-7 CAA) had not reached the semifinals of the CAA Tournament since 2001 before advancing past William and Mary 72-67 this year and then defeating Delaware 58-57 on March 10 to reach the championship. Madison had not advanced to the title game since 1997 but went on to defeat Northeastern 70-57 in one of its best performances of the season. The title earned a spot for the Dukes receiving votes on CollegeInsider.com's Mid-Major Coaches Poll. JMU finished the season winning 12 of its final 17 games.
In addition to the first NCAA appearance in 19 years, JMU went on to defeat LIU Brooklyn in the First Four in Dayton, Ohio to clinch the program's first NCAA postseason win since 1983. The win gave JMU 21 wins before ultimately finishing at 21-15, tied for the second-most wins in program history. It was Brady's third 21-win season in five years at Madison, giving him three of the top seven win totals in program history. That followed eight consecutive losing seasons for the Dukes.
A noticeable improvement in defense factored into JMU's championship run. The 64.6 points allowed per game ranked as the program's best defensive scoring average since 1984-85, predating the invention of the 3-point arc. The Dukes ranked second in the CAA for defensive scoring overall and first during the 18-game league schedule (60.8 points/game). JMU had not ranked higher than eighth in the league in either category in more than eight years.
Moore was Second Team All-District, honorable mention All-State by the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Third Team All-CAA. He was an instrumental senior leader, earning CAA All-Tournament honors while orchestrating JMU's postseason run.
JMU's all-time assist leader with 502, Moore led the league in assists by a wide margin with 4.9 per game (5.1 in league play). He was also second in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.0), 10th in minutes per game (33.9), 14th in steals per game (1.3) and 23rd in scoring (11.1 points per game).
Moore also set a new JMU standard for career minutes with 4,177 and finished 12th on the career scoring list with 1,317 points. He was also second in career games (124), second in starts (122), fourth in free throws made (375), 10th in steals (116), third in minutes per game (33.7) and 10th in career 10-point games (71). The 172 assists this season were second-most in JMU history and a senior class record. He also set senior class records for minutes (1,187) and games (35).
RICHMOND -- Sophomore utility player Sarah Mooney is the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Week for the second time this season and third time in her career as announced by the league office on Tuesday.
Mooney helped lead JMU to a 3-2 record last week, including a series sweep over UNCW over the weekend. Mooney hit .389 (7-for-18) with a double, three runs scored, two steals and a team-best seven RBIs. Against the Seahawks, she hit .417 (5-for-12) with three runs and five RBIs. The sophomore recorded a hit in four of the five games she played and had an RBI in three of them. She tied her career-high with four RBIs while going 2-for-4 in the series opener at UNCW on Saturday.
On the season, Mooney is hitting .410 with 10 home run and 41 RBIs. She leads the team in all three categories and is second on the team in runs (27) and steals (11). She is three RBIs shy of tying Jenn Chavez's (2005-08) record for a season and three homer shy of Ashley Burnham's (2009-12) single-season mark.
The Dukes are hosting Virginia Tech at Veterans Memorial Park on Wednesday. This is the third time they have faced an opponent from the ACC in a midweek doubleheader. JMU swept a doubleheader at Virginia on March 13 and dropped a pair of games to No. 25 North Carolina last Wednesday.