TOWSON, MD (Press Release) -- Towson struck for eight runs in the fifth inning as Kurt Wertz homered three times with seven RBIs to post a 15-12 win over James Madison, which also got two home runs and seven RBIs from senior right fielder Tyler Gregory (Dothan, Ala./Houston Academy), in a Colonial Athletic Association baseball game on Friday afternoon at John B. Schuerholz Park.
TU improved to 20-17 overall and 2-7 in the CAA while JMU dropped its seventh game in a row to fall to 12-26 overall and 4-8 in the league.
Gregory and Wertz combined to drive in 14 of the 27 total runs in the game. Gregory finished 4-for-5 with two runs and seven RBIs, which was two shy of the program record and the most by a JMU player since Jake Lowery had eight against Bucknell in the 2011 season opener. It was his first career multiple-home run game while setting career highs for hits and RBIs. Gregory has been Madison’s best hitter in CAA league play, batting .404 in 12 games with three doubles, five home runs, 14 runs scored and 19 RBIs, all of which rank among the top five in the conference.
JMU led Towson in hits 15-12 with redshirt senior first baseman Matt Tenaglia (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) going 3-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored. Redshirt sophomore Kyle Weston (Penn Laird, Va./Spotswood), sophomore catcher Bobby San Martin (Fairfax, Va./Centreville), and redshirt freshman Brett Johnson (Charlottesville, Va./St. Anne’s-Belfield) each had two hits in the three lineup spots behind Gregory.
Wertz had four of Towson’s 12 hits with a trio of two-run home runs, all in consecutive at bats to start the game, plus an RBI triple to account for his seven RBIs while tying the Tigers’ record for homers in a game. Catcher Zach Fisher was 2-for-2 with three walks, two RBIs and four runs scored, each driven in by Wertz. Second baseman Hunter Bennett was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Despite giving up five runs, Garrett Walther earned his first win of the season for Towson as the benefactor of the eight-run uprising in the fifth. Brandon Gonnella was perfect against the last five batters to pick up his 10th save of the season.
Junior Chris Huffman (Fort Defiance, Va./Fort Defiance) took the loss after being tagged with 11 runs allowed on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. Senior captain Trent Cundiff (Roanoke, Va./Northside) allowed one run on two hits with three strikeouts in the final 3 1/3 innings to keep the Dukes within reach while matching his longest outing of the season.
JMU struck for three runs with its first five batters of the games only to see Towson respond with three of its own, including the first two-run shot by Wertz to tie it. The Dukes pulled ahead again in the third at 6-3 with Gregory’s three-run blast only to see Wertz homer again in his second at bat to make it 6-5.
Tenaglia’s RBI single in the fourth and a sacrifice fly in the fifth had the score at 8-6 heading into the bottom of the fifth. Two batters into the frame, Wertz homered for the third straight at bat to tie the game at 8-8. An RBI single by third baseman Brady Policelli gave the Tigers the lead for good and was the third of eight runs scored in the inning for a 14-8 lead.
The Dukes struck back in their next turn with four runs on a sacrifice fly by senior second baseman Conner Brown (Richmond, Va./Godwin), a two-run homer by Gregory and a solo shot by San Martin. However, the Tigers retired 10 of the last 12 JMU batters faced to finish the 15-12 victory.
Game two of the series is Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.