Michael Morgan

Sophomore catcher Michael Morgan scored three runs in the Dukes' series against Delaware.

JMU baseball (17-8, 2-1 CAA) dominated Delaware (5-16, 1-2 CAA) in the final game of a weekend series. The Dukes battered the Blue Hens in the series tiebreaker en route to a 7-4 victory.

In the series opener on Friday, the Dukes struggled to score. With 13 strikeouts and only eight hits in 34 plate appearances, JMU floundered on the offensive side of the ball. Only two Dukes, junior outfielder DaVonn Griffin and freshman outfielder David Willis, recorded more than a single hit.

However, the furious and revenge-seeking Dukes came into the second match with a new strategy: focus on aggressiveness at the plate. As evidenced by the following two matches, it worked.

“Stringing together some really good at bats, two-strike hitting, hitting with two outs,” head coach Marlin Ikenberry said. “We weren’t aggressive early in the counts [Friday] night and it affected us.”

Saturday, during the second game of the series, freshman infielder Trevon Dabney was the first to bat for JMU. He immediately set the tone for the Dukes by homering to center field.

Likewise, outstanding pitching from sophomore Nick Stewart sealed the victory even further. In the second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, Stewart didn’t allow a run or hit and committed no errors.

“It feels pretty good, being able to get deep into the game,” Stewart said. “You just see your catcher back there and you get into a groove. Being consistent with your pitches, how much time you have in between your pitches, and just getting used to it and settling in.”

In the final, tie-breaking game, the Dukes showed more of the same: sweet pitching and stellar defense. However, this time, left-handed pitcher and redshirt senior Joe Williams started for JMU.

The team had a good hitting performance. In the bottom of the second, junior pitcher/infielder Fox Semones homered to left field allowing Dabney, pitcher/infielder Nick Zona and himself to score, bringing the lead to 6 while the Blue Hens had yet to score.

However, the stars of the show were the JMU infielders. The defense was stifling. Throughout the game, JMU tallied 27 putouts while Delaware managed to record only 12. While the score appeared close, JMU’s defense smothered Delaware all game.

Snappy decision making by junior second baseman Matt Dipasupil, who recorded four putouts, Zona, who recorded three assists, and Dabney, who recorded one of each, lit up Memorial Park. They displayed an amazing affinity for completing nail-bitingly close passes that just managed to hit their mark just in time.

“In practice, we work to get those hard ground balls,” Dabney said. “For games, it’s just regular ground balls to us, so we just work hard in practice on those hard [passes] in between long hop, short hop just to prepare for the games.”

The team’s next outing is Wednesday in Lexington, Virginia. The Dukes take on VMI (5-18) in a single game at 6 p.m.

Contact Michael Turner at turnermb@dukes.jmu.edu. For more baseball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.

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