LYNCHBURG, Va., – James Madison matched a season-high with four errors, including two in the bottom of the 10th, as Liberty pulled out a 12-11 non-conference baseball victory in extra innings on a controversial bases-loaded hit by pitch on Tuesday night at the Liberty Baseball Stadium.
LU, which never led until the game’s final play, improved to 18-15 after entering the game having lost eight of its last 10 games, including a 21-4 setback in Harrisonburg on March 27. JMU fell to 14-17 with its eighth loss in a row.
Madison led 6-0 in the early stages of the game and still sat in front 9-4 when the Flames put up a four spot in the fifth. The Dukes tacked on a run in the sixth but Liberty rallied with one in the eighth followed by a tying run in the ninth, which scored unearned as the leadoff batter reached via a throwing error.
The Dukes reclaimed the lead in the 10th. After loading the bases with one out on a pair of walks and a single, freshman catcher Bobby San Martin (Fairfax, Va./Centreville) lifted a sacrifice fly to right for the 11-10 lead. JMU had a chance for more with a runner advancing to third on the play but a strikeout ended the frame.
Liberty again put a leadoff runner on in unconventional fashion in the 10th, this time when a JMU fielder lost a fly ball in the lights for a double. A single with a misplay in center field allowed the run to score on the next batter. A throwing error then allowed the third batter to reach, and an intentional walk loaded the bases with no outs.
Freshman pitcher Mark Gunst (Fairfax, Va./Paul VI) drew a flyout and lineout to retire the next two batters. However, the umpire ruled that the next offering bounced and barely brushed against Nick Paxton’s leg for the game-winning hit by pitch via an unearned run.
Gunst (1-1) took the loss after allowing two runs, one earned on two hits in the 10th. Ashton Perritt improved to 2-0 for Liberty after allowing the one run on a hit and two walks in the 10th.
Designated hitter Danny Grauer was 4-for-6 with a double, two home runs and four RBIs to pace the Liberty offense. Catcher Trey Wimmer was also 4-for-6 with two doubles. Center fielder Ryan Cordell also homered as part of LU’s 18-hit attack.
Junior second baseman Conner Brown (Richmond, Va./Godwin) stayed hot at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a triple, two runs, two RBIs and two walks. Redshirt junior first baseman Matt Tenaglia (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) broke out of a slump with a pair of hits and four RBIs, including three on a double, along with a walk. Senior left fielder Colby Roberts (Benton, Ark./Benton) was 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored.
JMU jumps back into conference play this weekend with a three-game series at William and Mary, beginning with Friday’s first pitch at 7 p.m.