CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia countered James Madison’s four-run third with four runs of its own in the fourth to take control and put the game away with five in the eighth to claim a 16-8 decision in a non-conference baseball game on Wednesday evening at Davenport Field.
UVA, ranked as high as fifth in the national polls, won its sixth straight to improve to 37-7. JMU lost for just the second time in its last six outings to drop to 18-22.
Austin Young was the winner to improve to 5-0 after limiting JMU to an unearned run on two hits in 2 1/3 innings. Kyle Crockett pitched the last two frames to earn his 10th save as he entered an 11-8 game in the eighth.
Center fielder Brandon Downes led the Cavalier’s attack by going 3-for-4 with a triple, home run, three RBIs and four runs scored. Second baseman Reed Gragnani drove in four runs with a pair of hits and a sacrifice fly. Third baseman Nick Howard and right fielder Mike Papi each had two hits and two RBIs while first baseman Jared King and catcher Nate Irving also had two hits as part of the 16-hit effort for the Cavs.
Redshirt sophomore Luke Drayer (Hummelstown, Pa./Hershey) took the loss for JMU after allowing four runs on three hits in 3 1/3 innings.
Offensively, senior outfielder Colby Roberts (Benton, Ark./Benton) stayed hot at the plate as he followed his national player of the week performance by going 3-for-4 with a walk, an RBI and two runs scored. Junior designated hitter Conner Brown (Richmond, Va./Godwin) homered and drove in four. Senior third baseman Bradley Shaban (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) also had a pair of hits.
Virginia jumped on top from the start with a five-run first inning on six hits. After a double and single, Papi slapped a single to left to drive in the first run. With one out and the bases loaded, Howard lined a ball to deep left that was misplayed for an error, allowing three runs to scored. Gragnani added an RBI single to cap the five-run inning.
JMU battled back, picking up consecutive RBI doubles from the bottom of the order in the second to cut it to 5-2. The Dukes kept things going in the second as Roberts stayed hot with an RBI single sliced to left center. After a pitching change and a walk, Brown smacked a three-run blast to left that gave Madison a 6-5 lead.
Drayer retired six in a row into the first out of the fourth until the Cavaliers caught up to his offerings. A walk and a single put two on before Papi followed with an RBI single to tie the game. Downes then put Virginia in front with a triple deep to right field and Fisher capped things off by plating Downes with a groundout for a 9-6 lead.
Singles by Carroll and Roberts and a fielder’s choice groundout put runners on the corners with one out for JMU in the fifth. Brown lifted a fly ball deep to left that was caught on the warning track for a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 9-7.
The Cavaliers pushed the lead to 11-7 with a bases-loaded infield single and a sacrifice fly in the sixth. JMU earned one back when an error contributed to Roberts scoring in the seventh to make it 11-8.
However, Virginia capped the victory with a five-run eighth on five hits. The inning started with a one-out home run by Downes. The scoring also included a two-run single by Gragnani, a run scoring on a wild pitch and an RBI groundout by Cogswell.
JMU will be at George Washington for a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday followed by a 2 p.m. home game with the Colonials on Sunday.