HARRISONBURG, Va., – Senior second baseman Casey Goss (Springfield, Mo./Glendale (Jefferson College)) posted a career-high five hits and tied career highs of three runs scored and three RBIs to charge the James Madison baseball offense in an 11-8 home victory over VMI.
The Dukes posted their eighth straight win and are 10-6 overall this spring. The Keydets are now 5-12 for the 2013 season.
VMI got on the board early as the Keydets saw their first four batters reach base and a single plated their leadoff hitter. McFarland, however, turned an unassisted double play at third base, snagging Sheldon Shifflett’s line drive and catching Brandon Angus too far off the bag. Showing poise in his first collegiate start, freshman right hander Mark Gunst (Fairfax, Va./Paul VI) induced a groundout to first base and was able to escape the inning with just one run scored by VMI.
A sacrifice fly two innings later by Cody Holder scored Angus and gave the Keydets the 2-0 advantage.
Goss was the spark the JMU lineup needed with a hit-and-run single in the fourth inning to put junior designated hitter Conner Brown (Richmond, Va./Godwin) on third, giving the Dukes runners at the corners for sophomore left fielder Chad Carroll (Oakton, Va./Oakton). Carroll doubled to left field, scoring Brown to bring JMU within one of VMI at 2-1. Senior right fielder Cole McInturff (Centreville, Va./Westfield) then drove a single to left field to score Goss and tie the game. Carroll came around on a base hit by sophomore shortstop Tyler Duke (Troutville, Va./James River) to give JMU its first lead of the day at 3-2.
While the Keydets tied the game in the top of the fifth, JMU struck for three again in the bottom half of the inning. Goss was responsible for two of those runs as he batted in Brown and junior third baseman Ty McFarland (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) to give the Dukes the 5-3 lead. McInturff gave JMU a 6-3 advantage when his single to left field plated Goss.
As a team, JMU had 18 hits on the afternoon, including a home run by senior centerfielder Johnny Bladel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning. Bladel sent his first home run of the season over the right center field wall to put JMU back up by three runs (7-4) after the Keydets had notched one in the top of the sixth. McFarland and Goss each scored for the second time this game to give the Dukes a 9-4 advantage.
The Keydets refused to go down without a fight and posted four runs in the top of the eighth to make it a one-run game. Jordan Tarsovich knocked a single up the middle to plate Ray Lopez for the first run, and Angus batted an infield single to score Drew Bryan. Cody Holder batted the third run in off of a groundout, and Red Dowdell brought Angus home to put VMI within one. JMU’s sophomore right hander Chris Huffman (Fort Defiance, Va./Fort Defiance) came in for relief and shut the Keydets’ rally down as he got Thomas Stallings to go down swinging, preserving the 9-8 lead.
Huffman gave JMU some breathing room in the bottom of the eighth as he brought Carroll home off of a groundout to second base in his first collegiate plate appearance. Duke gave JMU even more space with a two-out RBI single to right field that scored Goss from second base.
Duke finished the day with three hits and two RBIs over five at-bats. McFarland tied him with the second-most hits on the day and accounted for two runs scored with no strike-outs in five at-bats. Brown tied Goss for the most runs scored on the day with three.
Huffman was credited with the save, his second of 2013, while freshman right hander Michael Church (Burke, Va./Lake Braddock) notched his second win of the season. VMI’s Jonathan Kelley went down with the loss in his only appearance for the Keydets this year.
JMU returns to Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park on Friday, March 16 for the weekend-opener against conference-foe UNCW. First-pitch of the three-game series is slated for 6:30 p.m.