JMU baseball defeats VMI for fifth straight win

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HARRISONBURG, Va. -- Junior Liam McDonnell had a career high seven strikeouts, and sophomore Nick Zona broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh inning with an RBI single to lead the Dukes (5-3) to a 4-2 victory over VMI on Tuesday afternoon at Veterans Memorial Park.

The James Madison baseball team defeated VMI, 4-2, Tuesday at Veterans Memorial Park.

McDonnell started on the mound for the Dukes, going 4.2 innings and allowing two runs while scattering five hits to go along his seven strikeouts. Junior Grayson Jones picked up his first victory of the season after coming in to relieve McDonnell. The right-hander went 2.1 shutout innings while giving up one hit, allowing two walks and striking out two. Sophomore Lliam Grubbs finished the game for JMU, throwing two shutout innings while allowing two hits, with one walk and four strikeouts.

Offensively, the Dukes were led by Zona, who finished the day 1-for-3 with an RBI and a walk. Freshman Chase DeLauter and junior Conor Hartigan both finished the game 1-for-4 with a double.

HOW IT HAPPENED
The Dukes broke the game open first, scoring in the second inning on a sacrifice fly by DaVonn Griffin. JMU would put another run on the board in the second on another sacrifice fly, this time by Kyle Novak.

The Keydets though would come back to tie it in the top of the fifth to make the score 2-2. JMU would retake the lead in the seventh. After a Michael Morgan leadoff walk, Griffin would move him over to second on a sacrifice bunt. Zona would them knock a single to left field, scoring Morgan from second base to take a 3-2 lead.

JMU would add an insurance run in the eighth when Josh Jones laid down a bunt to score Callaway Sigler, who came on to pinch run in the inning. The Dukes would hang onto the 4-2 lead to win the game by that score.

GAME FACTS
» McDonnell had a career high in strikeouts (seven) and innings pitched (4.2).
» The JMU pitching staff combined to strike out 13 VMI hitters.
» JMU's highest scoring inning was the eighth, when it pushed one run across.
» Three of the four runs the Dukes scored were by sacrifice hits.
» JMU pitchers limited VMI to just 1-for-12 (.083) with runners in scoring position.

» The Dukes are now on a five game winning streak.

QUOTING HEAD COACH MARLIN IKENBERRY
“It was good to take an early lead,” said Ikenberry. “VMI’s Trey Morgan pitched outstanding and they did a good job battling and tying the game up. Nick Zona put a good swing on the ball in the seventh inning to give us the lead and manufacturing the run in the eighth with Josh Jones was huge and I’m proud he executed it perfectly. Our pitching staff did an outstanding job today, starting with Liam McDonnell in his first career start. Grayson Jones did a nice job getting out of a jam there and then Lliam Grubbs strikes out four and shuts it down for us.

UP NEXT
JMU will finish off their seven-game home stand this weekend when they welcome Rider for a three-game series. Game one is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Friday, February 28.