No. 1 Virginia Baseball Earns 6-3 Win at James Madison
HARRISONBURG, Va. – The top-ranked Virginia baseball team captured a 6-3 victory over James Madison Wednesday night in front of a Dukes’ home record crowd of 1,815 at Veterans Memorial Park in Harrisonburg, Va.
Virginia’s five pitchers limited James Madison to four hits. Virginia starting pitcher Branden Kline (Fr., Frederick, Md.) worked into the sixth inning and allowed just two hits and two runs (one earned). In all, Kline (1-0) pitched five innings, walked three and struck out three as he notched his first college win.
Neal Davis (Sr., Baltimore, Md.), Whit Mayberry (Fr., Alexandria, Va.) and Tyler Wilson (Jr., Midlothian, Va.) provided the relief until Kevin Arico (Jr., Flemington, N.J.) shut the door in the ninth inning to earn his sixth save.
JMU starter Alex Valadja (0-2) tossed five innings, giving up two earned runs, four hits and six walks while striking out four as he took the loss.
Kenny Swab (Jr., Kernersville, N.C.) homered and singled for the Cavaliers, while Tyler Cannon (Sr., Pigeon Forge, Tenn.) and John Hicks (So., Sandy Hook, Va.) also posted two hits for UVa.
Virginia (14-3) drew a season-high 12 walks. Leadoff hitter Phil Gosselin (Jr., West Chester, Pa.) had a bizarre stats line, going 0-for-0 in six at bats. He earned five bases on balls and was hit by a pitch.
After a scoreless first inning in the first night game ever at JMU, Virginia quickly scored a run in the second. Hicks hit the second pitch of the inning into left-center field for a double and scored when John Barr (Jr., Ivyland, Pa.) ripped the next pitch to right field for a single.
UVa took advantage of Valadja’s wildness to score a run in the fourth inning. Valadja walked the bases loaded, and Barr scored on a passed ball from catcher Jake Lowery. Valadja again loaded the bases but struck out Dan Grovatt (Jr., Tabernacle, N.J.) on a 3-2 pitch to escape further damage.
James Madison (5-9) scored a run in the fifth. Matt Townsend walked with one out and Brett Garner reached on an error. Trevor Knight then singled to right to plate Townsend and move Garner to third. Kline got out of the jam by forcing McKinnon Langston to foul out and Lowery to fly out to center.
The Cavaliers responded in the sixth when Swab led off and crushed a 2-0 fastball from reliever David Edwards over the fans seated on the hillside beyond the left-center field fence. It marked Swab’s first home run as a Cavalier.
In the bottom of the sixth, Johnny Bladel and Mike Fabiaschi drew consecutive walks to start the inning, and Bladel moved to third on an errant throw to second by Hicks as Fabiaschi walked. Mayberry came on and got Matt Browning to hit a sacrifice fly and avoided further trouble by striking out David Herbek and inducing a fly ball from Townsend.
UVa stretched its lead again with a run in the seventh, as Hicks walked to lead off, moved to second on a wild pitch by James Weiner, advanced to third on a Swab single and scored on a wild pitch by closer Kevin Munson. The Dukes again cut a run from the lead in the seventh against Mayberry, as Garner led off with a double and one out later scored on a double by Langston.
In the ninth, Barr drew a leadoff walk and moved to second when Swab was hit by a pitch. Pinch hitter Keith Werman (So., Vienna, Va.) put down a good bunt, and Lowery fielded the ball and fired it wildly to first and down the right-field line, scoring Barr and moving the runners to second and third. After Gosselin was intentionally walked, Cannon grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Swab thrown out at the plate. Grovatt then lifted a fly ball to left field for a sacrifice fly to plate Werman and push the UVa lead to 6-3.
JMU put two runners on with two out in the ninth, but Arico got Lowery to fly out to right to end the game.
Virginia returns to Davenport Field this weekend, as it plays host to Boston College in a three-game ACC series. The teams will play at 6 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.