JMU roundup: Dukes topple No. 20 Maryland in baseball

HARRISONBURG — The James Madison University baseball team jumped out to an 8-0 lead on Tuesday evening before holding off a furious charge from Maryland and taking down the No. 20 Terrapins, 8-6, in non-conference action at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.

JMU tallied just seven hits en route to the win, which puts the Dukes at 10-11 on the year, but added seven walks and took advantage of its opportunities, leaving just six runners on base. The win also gives the Dukes victories over nationally-ranked foes in back-to-back years, as JMU took down No. 22 Seton Hall, 11-3, on March 9 of last season.

Maryland scored all six of its runs in the final four innings, but could not climb all the way back as the Terps fell to 17-5 in 2015.

The Dukes spread out their offense on the evening, as all seven hits were provided by different players. Sophomore designated hitter Ky Parrott was 1-for-4 with an RBI triple and two runs, while junior third baseman Kyle Weston went 1-for-3 with a double and a pair of RBIs.

Junior right-hander Mark Gunst started on the mound for JMU and earned his first win of the season, throwing a season-best five innings and striking out four, while yielding just four hits and two runs to the third-ranked offense in Division I.

Sophomore Michael Evans picked up his fourth save of the year, needing just two pitches to escape the bases-loaded, two-out jam in the eighth before throwing a scoreless ninth, including a big, three-pitch strikeout, to wrap things up.

Starter Jake Drossner took the loss for Maryland, his first decision of 2015, after giving up four earned runs on just two hits in his three innings. Second baseman Brandon Lowe, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week, led the Terrapin offense with a pair of doubles on the evening.

The Dukes will play their first Colonial Athletic Association series at home this weekend when they play host to defending champion College of Charleston on March 27-29. JMU will face the Cougars at 6:30 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday before wrapping up the series with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday afternoon.

Men’s tennis

HARRISONBURG — James Madison’s men’s tennis blanked Howard 7-0 in its home opener on Tuesday at Hillside Courts, and the Dukes moved to 5-8 on the season while the Bison fell to 1-8 overall.

The Dukes struck first as junior Robert Stirling and sophomore Brett Moorhead powered to an 8-1 win over William Jones III and Nico Sorrell at No. 2 doubles, clinching the first JMU point of the afternoon when combined with Howard’s default at No. 3 doubles.

At No. 1 doubles, both teams battled back-and-forth to a 5-5 tie before sophomores Sebastian Salinas and Miljan Ruzic pulled ahead to a 7-5 advantage. The Bison pulled back within one, but Madison countered and pulled out the 8-6 match win to complete the doubles sweep.

JMU began singles with a 2-0 lead as a default at the No. 6 position stood for the second point of the afternoon. In the remaining five singles matches, the Dukes won each of the first sets at Nos. 1-5, including three 6-0 victories. They continued on to win every singles match in the minimum two sets.

Match point was clinched by JMU with nearly simultaneous victories at No. 4 and No. 5 singles. Moorhead took down Hawkins Owens in straight 6-0 sets at the No. 4 position for the third JMU point just before Ruzic blanked Sorrell in the same manner at the No. 5 position for the fourth and decisive point.

Stirling made it a 5-0 lead for the Dukes, taking down Jones 6-0 in set one of No. 2 singles. Jones, down 5-0 in set two, battled back to within two at 5-3 before Stirling secured the decisive 6-3 win in the second stanza.

At No. 1 singles, Salinas stayed tight with Ismael Kaouache during the early goings of both sets before pulling away for 6-3 and 6-2 wins for the sixth JMU point.

Junior Maxi Branth secured a pair of 6-2 victories at No. 3 singles to round out the day and tallied the final point of the afternoon for the 7-0 Madison win.

The Dukes return to action this weekend with a pair of road trips. They begin at Villanova on Saturday with a 3 p.m. match before swinging over to Drexel for a 1 p.m. showdown in Colonial Athletic Association action. JMU is 1-2 in CAA matches this spring.