Dukes fall to UNCW, but clinch CAA Tournament Spot on Friday

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WILMINGTON, N.C. (JMU Athletics) -- James Madison baseball (31-12, 11-12 CAA) clinched a spot in the CAA Tournament next week despite being defeated 7-4 by the Seahawks of UNCW (27-28, 11-12 CAA). The Dukes honored head coach Mark Scalf pregame, presenting him with a UNCW colored wooden home plate. Coach Scalf is retiring from college baseball after 28 years at Wilmington.

UNCW jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first, as Brooks Baldwin opened up the scoring for the Seahawks. He singled through the right side to score Cole Weiss, before Chris Thorburn singled up the middle to score a pair. The Dukes answered in the third when Kyle Novak singled up the middle and advanced on an error by the shortstop. Trevon Dabney was able to come around to score to cut the deficit to 3-1.

The Seahawks would add insurance runs in the third and fifth innings, as Callaway Sigler almost robbed Kep Brown of a home run to left. Sigler leapt in the air and pulled the ball back into play, as Brown coasted into second with a double. A sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly would score Brown and in the fifth Greg Jones homered to left field to increase the lead to 5-1. Two more runs would be scored in the seventh before the Dukes started a rally of their own.

In the top of the eighth the Dukes were able to work a few walks and a single to load the bases. Defensive replacement Dallas Jackson grounded into what would be a fielder's choice, but an errant throw allowed the Dukes to score two runs. Later in the inning Trevon Dabney would single through the left side to cut the lead to 7-4. Wilmington would close the door, but JMU would clinch a tournament spot thanks to a Hofstra loss in the second half of the doubleheader today.

GAME FACTS
- With Hofstra's loss to William & Mary in the second game of the doubleheader, James Madison clinched a spot in the CAA Conference Tournament next week in Harrisonburg.
- Trevon Dabney finished the evening with a 2-for-4 line, scoring a run and recording an RBI in the 7-4 loss.
- Brady Harju had a decent afternoon, going 2-for-4 and reached base in the ninth on an error by the shortstop.
- Nick Stewart fell to 4-4 on the season with the loss Friday. The sophomore went 4.0 innings allowing four runs, one earned and struck out two.

SCORING SUMMARY
Bottom 1st | JMU 0 – UNCW 3 | Brooks Baldwin opened up the scoring for the Seahawks in the first, singling through the right side to score Cole Weiss. Chris Thorburn singled up the middle to score two more for UNCW.
Top 3rd | JMU 1 – UNCW 3 | Kyle Novak singles up the middle and advanced to second on an error by the shortstop. During the play Trevon Dabney was able to come around and score to get the Dukes on the board.
Bottom 3rd | JMU 1 – UNCW 4 | After Callaway Sigler almost robs a home run from Kep Brown, a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly would allow him to score and take a 4-1 lead.
Bottom 5th | JMU 1 – UNCW 5 | Greg Jones homered to left field to take a 5-1 lead over the Dukes.
Bottom 7th | JMU 1 – UNCW 7 | Cole Weiss laid down a sacrifice bunt to increase the score to 7-1. A couple of wild pitches in the inning allowed Greg Jones to score from third.
Top 8th | JMU 4 – UNCW 7 | With the bases loaded, Dallas Jackson grounded into what would have been a fielder's choice, but an error on the throw home allowed two runs to score. Later in the inning Trevon Dabney would single through the left side to cut the lead to 7-4.

WHAT COACH IKE HAD TO SAY
"It is always disappointing to lose a ballgame, but we were lucky enough to clinch a tournament spot earlier this afternoon with the Hofstra loss. Our guys have work really hard to get to this point in the season and to see it starting to pay off is nice. Pregame we were able to honor a coaching legend in Mark Scalf and everyone on our side knows it is an honor to take the field with him this weekend in his final ride at UNCW."

UP NEXT
The Dukes and Seahawks will wrap up their regular season slates with a 2 p.m. game at Brooks Field Saturday.