NEWARK, DEL. (Press Release) -- Junior right-hander Patrick Toohers (Florham Park, N.J./Seton Hall Prep) took a shutout into the eighth inning and James Madison survived a late Delaware rally to win its season finale 7-5 on Saturday at Bob Hannah Stadium and clinch a spot in next week’s Colonial Athletic Association tournament.
JMU improved to 17-34 overall, 8-12 in the CAA and clinched the No. 6 seed in the six-team tournament, which begins Wed. in Wilmington, N.C. The Dukes will face host and No. 3 seed UNCW at 3:30 p.m. UD fell to 24-25 overall and 10-10 in the league and will be the tournament’s No. 4 seed facing No. 5 Northeastern at noon. The losing teams from those two games play again at 7 p.m. in the double-elimination format.
Toohers limited the Blue Hens to five hits and no runs in seven-plus innings, exiting after a leadoff single in the eighth. He struck out one and walked one in his longest outing of the season to record his first win. Sophomore Mark Gunst (Fairfax, Va./Paul VI) picked up his first save of the season, third of his career, by going the final 1 1/3 innings.
Senior right fielder Tyler Gregory (Dothan, Ala./Houston Academy) led JMU’s 13-hit attack by matching his career high with his second four-hit game of the season and three RBIs, including a two-run homer in the sixth. It was his seventh round tripper of the season in league play to match the conference lead.
Redshirt senior first baseman Matt Tenaglia (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) also drove in three runs with a two-run home run to get the Dukes started in the first inning. Senior second baseman Conner Brown (Richmond, Va./Godwin), junior center fielder Kevin Husum (Panama City, Fla./Bay) and redshirt sophomore shortstop Kyle Weston (Penn Laird, Va./Spotswood) each had two-hit games to support the JMU effort.
Starter John Geffre took the loss for Delaware after allowing three first-inning runs before settling down for 4 2/3 innings total with six strikeouts. Second baseman Zach Lopes and first baseman Jake Clark each had two hits for the Blue Hens.
JMU grabbed the early lead with a three-run first inning thanks to Tenaglia’s two-out home run. The Dukes kept the inning going with Husum doubling and scoring on Gregory’s single to right field.
That score lasted until the sixth when the Dukes padded the lead with a Husum single and Gregory’s no-doubt two-run blast to right. A sixth JMU run scored in the seventh on Tenaglia’s sacrifice fly to center field.
After Toohers exited in the eighth, Delaware rallied against JMU freshman left-hander Michael Evans (Falls Church, Va./George C. Marshall). The Blue Hens loaded the bases with one out and scored the first run on a sacrifice fly. With two outs, three straight RBI singles by Lopes, designated hitter Alex Mottle and Clark made it 6-4 and a wild pitch scored a run to finish the five-run frame.
The Dukes answered back with a big insurance run in the ninth. They loaded the bases on a double by Brown, intentional walk of Tenaglia and a single by Gregory. Weston then singled through the left side to drive in Tenaglia for the seventh run. Gunst worked a quick ninth inning, retiring all three batters in order to close out the 7-5 victory.