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Six-Run Fifth Inning Lifts Baseball Past William & Mary, 8-2
Courtesy: George Mason Athletics
Release: 03/25/2012

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FAIRFAX, Va. - Matching strong starting pitching from A.J. Johnson and a six-run outburst in the fifth inning, the George Mason baseball team captured an 8-2 victory over William and Mary in the two teams' Colonial Athletic Association series finale on Sunday afternoon at Spuhler Field.

In a game that was delayed from Saturday due to weather, the Patriots (15-10, 4-5 CAA) captured the series over the Tribe (16-10, 5-4) after the teams split their Friday doubleheader.

Johnson (2-4) tossed a season-high seven innings, allowing two runs while scattering nine hits while striking out six to earn his second victory of the season. The first of six Tribe pitchers on the day, Matt Wainman (2-3) allowed the first six runs in 4.1 innings of work to take the loss. Jake Kalish pitched two scoreless innings of relief for the Patriots, allowing three hits and one walk while striking out two.

Mason opened the scoreboard in the first, as Chris Cook led off the Patriot offense with a double to left. He advanced 90 feet on a Wainman wild pitch and on Dan Schafferman's sacrifice fly to center field, Cook crossed the plate to put Mason up, 1-0.  Two batters later, Anthony Montefusco lined a double to right-center, allowing Brig Tison, the Patriots' second batter, to score after being issued a walk.

The Tribe response came in the top of the third inning, as W&M posted four consecutive hits after Jackson Shaver led off with a lineout to center. Kevin Nutter blasted a double over the third base bag in fair territory, and came home to score after Ryan Lindemuth's base hit got past the shortstop Tison. With the bases loaded after a Chris Forsten single, a wild pitch advanced each runner one base and allowed Ryan Brown to score, tying the game at two-all. A strikeout and a groundout ended the Tribe threat in the third to limit the damage.

Wainman held the Patriot bats at bay for nine consecutive batters, as Jake Leonardo's one-out single in the second was the only Mason hit, spanning three-plus innings. Cook started the barrage of Patriot baserunners in the bottom of the fifth with a double down the left field line, and Tison brought his teammate in from second with a single up the middle. The bases were loaded after Schafferman walked and Zack Helgeson was struck by a pitch, which brought about the end of Wainman's outing.

Reliever Jay McCarthy retired Montefusco on strikes but then issued a bases-loaded free pass to Blaise Fernandez and hit Josh Leemhuis. With three runs already home and the bases still loaded, Jake Leonardo delivered with a double to right center field, emptying the bases and making the score 8-2.  McCarthy was lifted and reliever John Sheehan again loaded the bases, but a lineout by Tison on his second trip to the plate in the fifth ended the inning.

Both teams managed just two hits apiece over the next two innings, but in the eighth, the Tribe found their best chance to cut into the deficit. With no outs and runners at every base, Kalish got a pair of swinging strikeouts and retired the side on a forceout at second, though, to end the threat.

Brown led off the top of the ninth with a bunt single, but a 5-4-3 double play turned by the Patriots eliminated the runner, and Forsten flied out to right to seal Mason's victory.

Cook, Montefusco and Leonardo each recorded two-hit games for Mason, while Brown's 4-for-5 day paced the Tribe offense, which recorded 12 hits compared to eight for the Patriots.

Mason will step out of home conference play on Wednesday, traveling to Rider for a 3 p.m. tilt before returning back to Fairfax next weekend, hosting Georgia State in a three-game CAA set beginning Friday at 3 p.m.