JMU baseball rallies for sixth straight win

By  | 

HARRISONBURG, Va. -- The JMU baseball team scored four runs in the seventh inning, and then took the lead in the eighth to erase a four-run deficit and knock off Rider, 8-7, on Friday afternoon at Eagle Field. The win extends the Dukes win streak to six.

The James Madison baseball team defeated Rider, 8-7, Friday evening for the Dukes' sixth straight win.

Senior Brett Ayer (2-1) picked up the victory out of the bullpen for JMU (6-3). The left-hander went two shutout innings without giving up a hit, allowing no walks and striking out four.

Senior Brady Harju and sophomore Kyle Novak lead the team offensively, going 3-for-4 and 3-for-5, respectively. Harju tied a career high with three RBI and added three doubles, while Novak drove in two and added two doubles himself. Conor Hartigan also added a double for the Dukes, and hit the game winning sacrifice fly in the eighth to score Nick Zona.

HOW IT HAPPENED
Rider struck first, pushing four runs across the plate in the top of the first. JMU fought back in the bottom of the third, as Hartigan, Novak, and Harju hit three consecutive doubles to make it a one-run game at 4-3.

The Broncs would push their lead to four again, adding a run in the fourth, sixth, and seventh inning to make it 7-3. The Dukes offense exploded in the bottom of the seventh; however, as JMU put up four runs to tie the game. Novak lead off the scoring with an RBI double, and would be followed by Harju who would knock in two on another double to bring the game within one. Junior Josh Jones would come up next and placed a base hit perfectly in center field to tie the game up at 7-7.

JMU would take the lead for good an inning later, as Hartigan would hit a fly ball to left field that was deep enough for Zona to cross the plate and make the score 8-7 in favor of the hosts. JMU would go on to hold onto the lead and win the ballgame by that score.

GAME FACTS
» JMU got three-hit games from both Harju and Novak, with both having multiple extra base hits.
» Four Dukes had multiple hits in the ballgame.
» The Dukes had seven extra base hits.
» JMU went 7-for-13 (.538) with runners in scoring position.
» JMU hit 8-for-15 (.533) with two outs.
» Every run the Dukes scored except the sacrifice fly in the eighth was with two outs.

QUOTING HEAD COACH MARLIN IKENBERRY
"I'm really proud of the way our guys hung in there and kept battling and competing for the entire game," said Ikenberry. "Rider didn't chase many balls and hit to spots where we weren't at, but our guys fought hard and it was exciting seeing them come back. We scored seven runs with two outs today, and that goes out to the resilience of this offense and I've been telling them that, how we are never out of the ball game. Brett Ayer was outstanding in those final two innings of relief, and Josh Jones had a big two-strike hit to tie the game up for us. Conor Hartigan follows up the next inning and puts a good swing on a low, two-strike slider to give us the lead and I'm just proud of these guys for never giving up."

UP NEXT
JMU returns to the field tomorrow, Feb. 29, for game two of the series against Rider. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.