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(Photo by George Mason Athletics)
Baseball Earns Season Series Over James Madison, Edging the Dukes 6-5 on Sunday
Courtesy: George Mason Athletics
Release: 04/29/2012

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HARRISONBURG, Va. - In a back-and-forth game, the George Mason baseball team edged the host James Madison Dukes to capture the season series with a 6-5 win on Sunday afternoon at Eagle Field.

The Patriots improved to 30-17 overall and 15-9 in the conference with the win, taking a series from the Dukes for the first time since the 2009 season. JMU fell to 15-29-1 overall and 9-15 in the conference.

Trailing 5-4 going into the eighth inning, the Patriots grabbed the lead for good with two runs in the inning. Capitalizing on two-out run production, Mason loaded the bases with two out for junior outfielder Nick Allen, who hit a soft single to the JMU shortstop but was able to run it out to reach safely and allow a run to score to tie the game, 5-5. Errant Dukes pitching allowed the final Mason run to cross the plate, as reliever Josh Futter threw a wild pitch that rolled toward the backstop and allowed redshirt sophomore outfielder Josh Leemhuis to score from third for the lead.

The game was a back-and-forth affair up until the eighth inning, as the lead changed hands four times with three ties over seven innings.

The Dukes took a 1-0 lead in the second as Bradley Shaban stepped to the plate with a runner on second and one out and drilled a single up the middle to bring in the run.

Allen led off the top of the third with a triple and came home on an RBI sacrifice fly to deep left center by senior shortstop Brig Tison, knotting the game at 1-1.

Seizing the lead in the fourth, Leemhuis doubled to left, and senior catcher Jake Leonardo knocked his first home run of the season deep to left field to put the Patriots up, 3-1.

As quickly as Mason put two runs on the board the Dukes responded, adding two runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth to again tie the game. With runners on first and second and two outs, JMU second baseman Casey Goss hit a two-RBI double deep to left and leave the scoreboard at 3-3. The Dukes attempted to bring home another run in the inning as outfielder Ian Haynes singled to Tison, who made a heads up play to throw home, catching a Duke as he crossed the plate to end the inning.

Timely hitting and two out run production put the Patriots up in the sixth as Leemhuis arrived home on an RBI single by Allen for a 4-3 lead, but again the Dukes answered to assume a 5-4 lead in the home half of the inning. With runners on the corners and nobody out shortstop Chad Carroll singled up the middle to bring in a run and tie the game at 4-4, and the lead exchanged hands for the final time as JMU third baseman Johnny Bladel hit a two-out RBI single to left center.

Allen put together a 3-for-5 showing at the plate with two RBIs and one run scored, while Tison, Fernandez and Leemhuis all had multi-hit games.

Kalish (5-1) threw two innings of relief, allowing just one hit while striking out three for his second win of the series. Starter A.J. Johnson lasted five innings, giving up five earned runs on nine hits with three strikeouts. Closer Chris O'Grady threw the final two innings for Mason en route to his conference-leading 13th save, striking out three and allowing just one hit.

Bladel went 3-for-4 with an RBI for the Dukes, and Goss put up two RBI's on a 1-for-4 performance.

The Patriots return to the diamond on Tuesday, hosting the University of Richmond at 3:00 pm.