In JMU baseball’s sweep of Quinnipiac in its first home series of the season, freshman left fielder and pitcher Chase DeLauter gave teammates and fans a glimpse of what the young athlete’s career can flourish into.
DeLauter came into the series with a .500 batting average after three hits and three RBIs against Richmond. Although the first game against Quinnipiac was low scoring — with the Dukes only winning 1-0 via a 10th inning walk-off — DeLauter demonstrated his batting abilities from the first inning.
The freshman gave the handoff to sophomore shortstop Nick Zona at the end of the first game by sending a single out to left-centerfield for Zona to score the game-winning run. The game-winner was the second of two hits for that game, the first being a single as well.
“[DeLauter’s] handled playing college baseball really well,” head coach Marlin Ikenberry said. “He’s becoming a really polished baseball player. Every day he sees something and does something new to keep pushing this team.”
The next game, DeLauter once again had a strong first at-bat, notching his first home run of the season to give the Dukes an early 1-0 lead in a dominant 7-0 win. DeLauter shot the ball deep into left field — a difficult task while batting left-handed. The home run was followed by an RBI later in the game. JMU had shown its offense in its second game with Quinnipiac, and DeLauter proved himself once again to the team and JMU fans.
“Chase is amazing; He’s an awesome player,” junior pitcher Justin Showalter said. “He’s super humble, and the two of us love to compete in everything we do, whether it’s running sprints or seeing who can throw the fastest, which, in turn, I think really shows on the field.”
In the final contest between the Dukes and Bobcats, Ikenberry chose to start DeLauter as pitcher. DeLauter had his first collegiate pitching start in the season-opening series finale against No. 16 NC State, where the Dukes fell, 4-0.
DeLauter let two runs go in the top of the first inning in Quinnipiac. However, he didn’t let anything else go for the remaining four innings he pitched. For the third time, DeLauter got himself on base in his first at-bat, earning a triple. At the top of the fifth inning, freshman pitcher Hunter Entsminger was sent for relief, allowing DeLauter to become the designated hitter for the remainder of the game. He finished with three strikeouts, one walk and four hits.
“I thought he settled into it pretty well,” Ikenberry said. “Being a two-way player this early in the season allowed him to get some innings today. I was really proud of how he maintained his composure and how he competed on the mound.”
Later in the game, Quinnipiac made a comeback to tie it at the top of the ninth, putting the pressure on not only the bullpen but the offense to preserve the potential sweep. At the bottom of the ninth and with Zona on first base, DeLauter sent a double into right-center field for Zona to once again score the game-winning run for the Dukes.
Following the series sweep, DeLauter was named the CAA Rookie of the Week, alongside Showalter who was named CAA Pitcher of the Week.
“It feels great to have the team behind me,” DeLauter said. “They trust me on the field and at bat, so I just try my best to come through and play well for them.”
Contact Madison Hricik at email@example.com. For more baseball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.