Northeastern pulled away from a one-run game with a five-run sixth inning and defeated James Madison 11-7 in a Colonial Athletic Association Baseball Championship elimination game on Friday afternoon at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.
Fifth-seeded NU improved to 30-25 and advanced to another elimination game against No. 1 UNCW later Friday evening. No. 6 JMU saw its season end at 25-30 after beginning the day with a 20-19 setback against No. 2 William and Mary in a game suspended Thursday evening with JMU trailing 12-3.
The Huskies led 4-3 going into the sixth inning when they struck for five runs on just two hits. Three walks, a hit batter and two JMU errors compounded the damage for NU. Madison fought back to as close as 10-7 in the eighth and put two runners on in the ninth but couldn’t complete the comeback.
Matt Cook (3-1) pitched the fifth inning in support of starter Nick Cubarney to pick up the win. Cubarney allowed three runs on four hits in four innings. Michael Foster picked up his fourth save with two scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth.
Sophomore Michael Howerton (Chesterfield, Va./Matoaca) took the loss for JMU after allowing seven runs, six earned on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Northeastern put up 14 hits, including nine from the second through fifth batters in the order. Shortstop Jason Vosler was 3-for-5 with a double, walk and two runs scored. First baseman Rob Fonseca reached five times with a single, double and three walks. Foster and Brad Burcroff each homoered for the Huskies.
Senior right fielder Cole McInturff (Centerville, Va./Westfield) reached base in all five plate appearances in his final collegiate game with two infield singles and three walks. Senior center fielder Johnny Bladel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) reached three times with a single, hit by pitch and his 52nd walk of the season.
After a scoreless first inning, Foster put NU on the board in the second with a solo shot lifted into the jet stream to right field. The Huskies continued the inning with a single and a hit batter and got a second run on an RBI single by designated hitter Will Dougherty.
JMU put together a two-out rally in the bottom of the frame. McInturff drew a full-count walk and redshirt junior first baseman Matt Tenaglia (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) singled. Freshman catcher Bobby San Martin (Fairfax, Va./Centreville) followed with a double into the corner in left with Tenaglia coming all the way around from first. The throw appeared to get to the plate in time but Tenaglia slid wide of the tag and got his hand flat just under the catcher’s tag while crossing the plate.
NU took advantage of an error on the exchange to the pitcher on a groundout to first in the fourth inning to take a 3-2 lead on Aaron Barbosa’s RBI groundout. The Huskies tacked on a fourth run in the fifth on a RBI single by John Puttress.
With two outs in the fifth, sophomore left fielder Chad Carroll (Oakton, Va./Oakton) stole his 21st base of the season. That proved important as senior catcher Bradley Shaban (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) followed with an RBI single to right center to pull JMU within a run at 4-3.
The Huskies turned right around in the sixth with a walk and an infield single followed by a one-out double from Vosler to make it 5-3. After bringing in freshman J.T. Root (Hagerstown, Md./North Hagerstown), NU loaded the bases with a walk. An error followed by a hit by pitch brought in two runs to make it 7-3. Freshman Michael Church (Burke, Va./Lake Braddock) relieved Root and issued a bases-loaded walk to make it 8-3. A sacrifice fly capped the five-run uprising to make it 9-3.
JMU put two in scoring position with one out in the sixth but was held to one run on an RBI groundout by pinch hitter Tyler Gregory (Dothan, Ala./Houston Academy).
NU answered right back in the top of the seventh with a two-out RBI double by Fonseca to make it 10-4.
A walk and an error gave JMU two leadoff runners in the seventh. A groundout advanced the runners and Brown singled to make it 10-5. NU third baseman Pete Castoldi made a great play on a bouncer right down the line to retire the second out at first, but McInturff followed by beating out an infield single to make it 10-6 after seven innings.
JMU picked up a run in the eighth on an RBI groundout by Carroll but saw the Huskies earn it right back in the ninth with a solo home run to right by Burcroft to cap the scoring at 11-7.