JMU baseball had an interesting day, as it played its second doubleheader of the season. The Dukes lost their first game of the year in the front end of the doubleheader, 9-6, but bounced back in the second with a 14-4 victory.
In Game 1, junior first baseman/catcher Harry Brown finished with two extra-base hits: an RBI double and triple. JMU also got RBIs from sophomore outfielder Conor Hartigan, junior first baseman Brady Harju, freshman infielder/pitcher Nick Zona and junior catcher Kyle Hayes. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Nick Stewart threw 4.2 innings, allowing three runs on five hits while punching six strikeouts and giving up a walk in the loss.
The Leopards scored at least one run in each of the last five innings while the Dukes struggled to keep up. JMU head coach Marlin Ikenberry felt the first game came down to timely hitting, but was pleased with what he saw in the 14-4 win in the second game of the day.
“I think that the first game was one of the most bizarre baseball games I’ve ever coached,” Ikenberry said. “Having that many guys left on base and not getting the big hit when we needed it … I was proud with the way our guys came back and responded in Game 2.”
In the 14-4 win, redshirt junior pitcher Brett Ayer came in relief and shut out Lafayette over the final 4.2 innings, racking up eight of the Dukes’ 14 strikeouts. JMU also hit its first home run of the season when Harju blasted one to deep center field in the fifth inning.
“It feels good to finally get one, but I’m just glad we won,” Harju said about the home run .
Ikenberry saw differences in the two games regarding how JMU played. Ayer’s performance and the Dukes getting hits with runners in scoring position were two main differences between the two contests.
“I was proud of how Brett Ayer came out of the bullpen and threw up zeros to end the game and kept extending the lead,” Ikenberry said. “In Game 1, I think it was one of those situations we needed a big hit and [Lafayette’s] pitcher was getting calls when he needed to on the outer third and we couldn’t get in good rhythm offensively … Game 2, Brady did a really good job of getting a big home run to get us going.”
The strong wind was a predominant factor throughout the day, carrying hits deep into the field of play. Several of the extra-base hits came as a result of outfielders misjudging where the ball was going to land because of the wind.
The wind also played a key role in Brown’s triple in the first game. As Leopards sophomore center fielder Michael Landry drifted left to catch the baseball, the wind took it behind him, landing at the warning track. Brown, however, was more focused on his routine than the wind.
“I really don’t like to think about that,” Brown said. “I just try to stick to my same approach, and got a little lucky to hit a fly ball that happened to carry way out into left-center and got a triple out of it.”
JMU, now 6-1 on the season, returns to the diamond Tuesday against VMI. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Contact Brandon Ellis email@example.com For more baseball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.