RADFORD, Va. – Senior outfielder Colby Roberts (Benton, Ark./Benton) homered twice and drilled a game-winning three-run double in the ninth to lift James Madison to an 8-6 baseball win at Radford that snapped an 11-game losing streak on Tuesday night at the RU Baseball Stadium.
JMU improved to 15-20 overall, winning for the first time since a 21-4 decision over Liberty on March 27 and snapping an 11-game skid one shy of matching the program record. The Dukes rallied to win for the first time this season in their 35th game, improving to 1-18 when trailing after six innings and 1-17 when trailing heading into the ninth. It was also the team’s third road victory in 14 tries. Radford fell to 20-15 after its fourth straight loss.
Madison led 4-1 when RU struck for five runs in the bottom of the fifth. After several missed opportunities, the Dukes earned one run in the eighth on a pinch-hit single by junior Tyler Gregory (Dothan, Ala./Houston Academy).
In the ninth, a pair of singles and an intentional walk loaded the bases with one out. Roberts then smacked a two-ball, no-strike pitch to the left field gap for a bases-clearing double and an 8-6 lead. Sophomore Chris Huffman (Fort Defiance, Va./Fort Defiance) closed the door in the ninth for his fifth save.
The four hits for Roberts were a career high. He had one home run previously this year before connecting on two solo blasts in the early innings for JMU’s first multiple-homer game since Billy Logan smacked two at Northeastern on May 20, 2011. Roberts drove in a season-high five runs, was hit by a pitch and stole a base.
Sophomore Ben Garner (Burke, Va./Paul VI) earned his first victory of the season with 2 1/3 innings of relief allowing just one hit with three strikeouts. Huffman’s save moved him to sixth in JMU history with seven in his career. Senior Johnny Bladel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) allowed just two earned runs, four total, in four innings as the starter.
In addition to his mound work, Bladel was also 2-for-4 at the plate with a walk and a run scored. Sophomore left fielder Chad Carroll (Oakton, Va./Oakton) was also 2-for-4 with a walk, RBI and a run scored. Sophomore Tyler Duke (Troutville, Va./James River) also hit a solo home run as JMU had a season-high three homers for the night. Senior shortstop Casey Goss (Springfield, Mo./Glenville) added a pair of hits and a run.
Daniel Bridgeman allowed the three runs in the ninth to take the loss for Radford, falling to 3-3. Starter Dylan Nelson allowed four runs on eight hits in four innings and surrendered all three solo home runs.
Designated hitter Patrick Marshall was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Second baseman Josh Gardiner, shortstop Jeff Kemp and center fielder Chris Coia also had two hits. Right fielder Blake Sipe drove in two.
JMU took the lead on Carroll’s RBI single in the first and added the Roberts solo shot in the second. After Sipe’s RBI single in the second, the Dukes upped the lead to 4-1 with a second Roberts long ball in the fourth and Duke’s shot to lead off the fifth.
Madison proceeded to load the bases with one out after Duke’s home run but couldn’t convert. That loomed large when the Highlanders rallied for a five spot in the bottom of the frame. Sipe reached on an error while driving in a run and Gardiner added an RBI double to chase Bladel. First baseman Ryan Burgess also reached on an RBI error and Marshall’s two-run double made it 6-4.
JMU wraps up its six-game road swing on Wednesday with a 6 p.m. game at Longwood. The Dukes are playing two midweek games for the first time this season.