HARRISONBURG, Va. - The George Mason baseball team
registered just two hits but capitalized on four James Madison errors as the Patriots
defeated the Dukes, 3-2, in the first game of their CAA weekend series at Eagle
Field in Harrisonburg.
Mason improved to 29-16 overall and 14-8 in the CAA, while
the Dukes dropped to 14-28-1 and 8-14 in conference action.
The Dukes assumed a 1-0 lead in the home half of the second
inning, putting runners on the corners with one out for outfielder Ian Haynes,
who grounded into a fielders choice that allowed the runner to score from
Mason knotted the score at 1-1 in the top of the fifth. With
two outs, senior catcher Jake Leonardo found a gap in left center field for a
double and came home on what should have been an inning-ending groundout by
junior second baseman Chris Cook. However, JMU shortstop Chad Carroll threw an
errant ball to first base, allowing Cook to reach safely and Leonardo to score
all the way from second base.
Grabbing the lead in the top of the top of the eighth, the
Patriots again took advantage of a JMU error to assume a 2-1 advantage.
Leonardo led off the inning reaching on an error by JMU's Carroll, advanced to
second on a sacrifice bunt from Cook and third on a groundout by junior
outfielder Nick Allen. The Dukes looked poised to get out of the inning as
senior shortstop Brig Tison hit a grounder to JMU second baseman Casey Goss but
he mishandled the ball, letting Tison reach safely and Leonardo to cross home
plate for the second time in the game to give Mason the lead.
Adding an insurance run in the top of the ninth, sophomore
third baseman Blaise Fernandez drilled his first home run of the season deep to
right field to give the Patriots a 3-1 lead.
JMU mounted a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning,
tallying a run on a two-out RBI single by pinch hitter Conner Brown, but Mason
closer Chris O'Grady got his final batter to strike out, securing the 3-2 win.
Starter Anthony Montefusco threw six innings, giving up just
one earned run on three hits with three strikeouts. Jake Kalish (4-1) worked
two innings of relief to earn the win, and O'Grady closed the game for his conference
leading 12th save of the season.
Leonardo scored both runs for Mason with a 1-for-3
performance at the plate. Fernandez recorded the only other Mason hit, going
1-for-4 with one run and an RBI.
JMU starter Patrick Toohers (2-2) took the loss after eight
innings of work, allowing two unearned runs off of one hit and four strikeouts.
Trent Cundiff threw the final inning for the Dukes, giving up one earned run on
Outfielder Cole McInturff led the Dukes at the plate, going
2-for-4 with one run scored.
The Patriots and Dukes continue their series tomorrow at