JMU roundup: Dukes fall short to Tigers in slugfest

Daily Staff Report –

TOWSON, Md. — Towson struck for eight runs in the fifth inning as Kurt Wertz homered three times with seven RBIs to post a 15-12 win over James Madison, which also got two home runs and seven RBIs from senior right fielder Tyler Gregory in a Colonial Athletic Association baseball game on Friday afternoon at John B. Schuerholz Park.

Towson improved to 20-17 overall and 2-7 in the CAA, while JMU dropped its seventh game in a row to fall to 12-26 overall and 4-8 in the league.

Gregory and Wertz combined to drive in 14 of the 27 total runs in the game. Gregory finished 4-for-5 with two runs and seven RBIs, which was two shy of the program record and the most by a JMU player since Jake Lowery had eight against Bucknell in the 2011 season opener. It was his first career multiple-home run game while setting career highs for hits and RBIs. Gregory has been Madison’s best hitter in CAA league play, batting .404 in 12 games with three doubles, five home runs, 14 runs scored and 19 RBIs, all of which rank among the top five in the conference.

JMU led Towson in hits, 15-12, with redshirt senior first baseman Matt Tenaglia going 3-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored. Redshirt sophomore Kyle Weston, sophomore catcher Bobby San Martin and redshirt freshman Brett Johnson each had two hits in the three lineup spots behind Gregory.

Wertz had four of Towson’s 12 hits with a trio of two-run home runs, all in consecutive at bats to start the game, plus an RBI triple to account for his seven RBIs while tying the Tigers’ record for homers in a game. Catcher Zach Fisher was 2-for-2 with three walks, two RBIs and four runs scored, each driven in by Wertz. Second baseman Hunter Bennett was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

Despite giving up five runs, Garrett Walther earned his first win of the season for Towson as the benefactor of the eight-run uprising in the fifth. Brandon Gonnella was perfect against the last five batters to pick up his 10th save of the season.

Junior Chris Huffman took the loss after being tagged with 11 runs allowed on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. Senior captain Trent Cundiff allowed one run on two hits with three strikeouts in the final 3 1/3 innings to keep the Dukes within reach while matching his longest outing of the season.

Game two of the series is Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.