Conner Brown (Richmond, Va./Godwin) had three hits with two triples and James Madison's freshman tandem of Michael Howerton (Chesterfield, Va./Matoaca) and Aaron Hoover (Centreville, Va./Westfield) combined to limit George Mason to one earned run in a 5-2 win in the second game of a Colonial Athletic Association baseball series on Saturday night at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.
JMU improved to 15-28-1 overall and 9-14 in the CAA while GMU fell to 29-17 overall, 14-9 in the league. The game included a 46-minute lightning delay in the middle of the seventh inning.
Brown became the ninth player in JMU history to triple twice in a game. He finished with three of JMU's five hits in the game with a run scored and an RBI while extending his hitting streak to nine games. The Dukes were outhit by the Patriots 7-5 as the team with fewer hits has won both games in the series.
On the mound, Howerton worked his longest outing of the year with one run allowed in six innings to post his first collegiate victory (1-2). He struck out four and allowed six hits. Hoover also struck out four and allowed an unearned run on just one hit in three innings of relief to post his first collegiate save.
Altogether, JMU pitchers have surrendered just two earned runs on nine hits in 18 innings in the series. Freshmen have accounted for 17 of the 18 innings and one earned run.
Starter Ryan Pfaeffle took the loss for George Mason after allowing all five runs, three earned, on five hits in six innings.
The offensive production all came from the top of the order for the Patriots with center fielder Nick Allen posting three of Mason's seven hits and a walk. Right fielder Dan Schafferman singled twice and posted the lone RBI. Designated hitter Zack Helgeson walked three times.
Early in the game, Mason had two runners thrown out at the plate, one in the first and one in the third, before striking first on the scoreboard in the third. Second baseman Chris Cook doubled to the corner in right with one out and advanced to third as left fielder Colby Roberts (Benton, Ark./Benton) came up just short on a sliding attempt to make the catch on a single. Shortstop Brig Tison then attempted to squeeze in the run but his bunt went strong down the first-base line with JMU senior Evan Scott (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) firing home for the out. Schafferman then singled up the middle to plate Allen for the first run of the game.
JMU responded in the bottom of the frame by loading the bases with no outs on a triple by freshman shortstop Chad Carroll (Oakton, Va./Oakton), hit batter and a walk. Junior center fielder Cole McInturff (Centreville, Va./Westfield) then hit a sharp liner to left for a sacrifice fly to tie the score at 1-1. A single by Brown reloaded the bases and third baseman Ty McFarland's (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) fielder's choice grounder to the shortstop gave JMU the lead 2-1. Scott then reached on a fielder's choice with the second baseman dropping the shortstop's throw.
Junior right fielder Johnny Bladel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) led off the JMU fifth with a walk. He was sacrificed to second and came in to score on Brown's second triple of the game with the center fielder bobbling the ball to allow Brown to score on the play for a 5-1 lead.
After the delay, with one on after a walk and two outs in the top of the eighth, first baseman Mick Foley lofted a high fly to shallow center field. With all three fielders calling for the ball, junior second baseman Casey Goss (Springfield, Mo./Glendale) couldn't close his glove on it as the ball fell for a three-base error to score the run and make it 5-2.
Game three of the series will be Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.