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
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
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.