JMU won its first CAA series since taking two of three at George Mason March 22-24. The Dukes wrapped up a 4-1 week to improve to 8-12 in the CAA and 18-21 overall. GSU came to town having won nine of its last 10 games but fell to 26-16 overall and 6-9 in the league.
The Dukes fell behind early after a four-run first by the Panthers and trailed 5-0 before rallying for four runs in the fifth. Still, JMU had stranded 11 runners on the bases, including five straight innings leaving a runner at third, when they came to bat trailing 5-4 in the eighth.
Madison loaded the bases with one out as senior Johnny Bladel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) singled up the middle, junior second baseman Conner Brown (Richmond, Va./Godwin) was hit by pitch and a redshirt junior Matt Tenaglia (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) drew a walk. Carroll then lofted a high fly off the wall in right to drive in two and push the Dukes ahead. Roberts followed up with a single to drive in two more for an 8-5 advantage.
Sophomore Chris Huffman (Fort Defiance, Va./Fort Defiance) entered in relief and saw the potential tying run come to the plate with one out before ending the game on a 5-4-3 double play. Huffman picked up his third save in five games and seventh of the season. For the five-game week, he posted a 0.00 ERA in six innings with three saves and a win.
Freshman Michael Church (Burke, Va./Lake Braddock) blanked the Panthers for two innings to earn the win in relief and improve to 4-1. Bladel made his third career start and posted career highs of six innings and six strikeouts. He settled down from a shaky four-run first inning to retire 16 of the final 18 batters he faced.
Roberts capped an impressive week by going 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a walk. In five games, he was 12-for-18 (.667) with 15 RBIs and seven runs scored. His 1.222 slugging percentage included four doubles and two home runs while four walks and a hit by pitch gave him a .680 on-base percentage.
Carroll’s two-run double capped a 3-for-5 day with two doubles and three RBIs. Bladel also had three hits and was hit by a pitch to remain in the top six in the nation in on-base percentage. Brown followed his cycle Saturday with a 2-for-3 day and a walk. Roberts, Carroll, Bladel and Brown accounted for 10 of JMU’s 11 hits.
Conner Stanley was ineffective in relief to take the loss and fall to 4-2. He started the eighth inning and could only record one out as JMU tagged him for all four runs in the inning. Andrew Fessler allowed four runs on five hits with six walks and six strikeouts as the starter in 4 1/3 innings.
Designated hitter Chase Raffield was 2-for-3 with a walk and a solo home run, his ninth of the season, for GSU. Center fielder Josh Merrigan also had two of the Panthers’ seven hits.
GSU put up a big inning right from the start as Merrigan and Raffield singled to put runners on the corners with one out. After a walk to load the bases, third baseman Caden Baily drew a four-pitch walk to push in the first run. Right fielder Mark Hogan followed with a double to right center to drive in two for a 3-0 lead. Shortstop Chad Prain then pounded a slow roller to third that he beat out for an RBI single.
Bladel settled down and retired 10 of 11 until Raffield rocked a solo home run deep to right field in the fifth.
After striking out twice to end innings with the bases loaded, JMU finally broke through against Fessler in the fifth. Junior third baseman Ty McFarland (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) walked and Brown singled to put runners on the corners. After a strikeout, Carroll finally got the big hit with an RBI single to center. Roberts followed with a double to the corner in right to make it 5-2. That chased Fessler and JMU turned to its bench, getting a big pinch-hit, two-run double to right center by senior Casey Goss (Springfield, Mo./Glenville)
JMU will travel over Afton Mountain on Wednesday for a 6 p.m. game against No. 8 Virginia at Davenport Field.