Nick Stewart

Nick Stewart won his first game of the season in Game 1 of Sunday's doubleheader.

After a dominant 12-4 win against Richmond, JMU baseball debuted its new turf field in the first game of a three-game series against Quinnipiac. This is the first three games of a seven-game homestand for the Dukes and their first series since the season opener against No. 16 North Carolina State.

Game 1: 1-0, JMU (10 Innings)

The game remained scoreless until the ninth inning, and both teams had an occasional hit into the outfield. Junior pitcher Nick Stewart pitched until the sixth with seven strikeouts, turning the game into a pitchers’ battle, while throwing over 100 before senior pitcher Brett Ayer came in for relief.

Ayer pitched into the top of the 10th inning, finishing the game with 69 pitches and six strikeouts. The scoreless game came to an end with two outs for the Dukes. Sophomore shortstop Nick Zona got a single with his first hit of the game. Following Zona was freshman left fielder Chase DeLauter, who averaged a .476 shooting the ball in left-centerfield to give Zona the go-ahead and earn JMU’s first home walk-off win of the season.

Game 2: 7-0, JMU

Following its extra-inning win, JMU was ready for its second contest against Quinnipiac. With a 2.25 earned run average from his game against Richmond, junior pitcher Justin Showalter was chosen as the starter. 

DeLauter once again demonstrated his strong batting abilities by giving the Dukes their first home run at home for a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. The lead grew even more with the help of sophomore infielder Kyle Novak’s first home run of the season, extending JMU’s lead to 2-0. 

Showalter made a strong impression for the first two innings, tossing 12 pitches before the Dukes took an offensive stance. Showalter pitched a total of 100 pitches without relief, with six strikeouts for a 0.69 era.

Senior center fielder DaVonn Griffin gave the Dukes a hit-and-run for junior catcher Michael Morgan to give JMU a 3-0 lead. The following inning, the Dukes continued to show their offense with an RBI from Zona, as well as a walk from Novak to give JMU another multi-run inning.

Redshirt sophomore third baseman Josh Jones and senior second baseman Fox Semones each scored for the Dukes during the bottom of the 5th for the 7-0 lead. Quinnipiac sent out its relief pitcher at the top of the sixth to try and put a stop to JMU’s aggressive offense. Showalter kept the Dukes from expanding their lead; However, the Quinnipiac offense couldn’t produce in the ninth, giving the Dukes another win.

Game 3: 12-11, JMU

In the final game of the series, the Dukes chose to start DeLauter as their pitcher, and Quinnipiac chose sophomore Derek Goldrick. The Bobcats scored two early runs in the first, which was countered by DeLaunter and an RBI by Semones for sophomore left fielder Trevon Dabney. 

Quinnipiac sent in its relief pitcher in the bottom of the second, however it did not stop the Dukes’ offense with another run by Griffin, Zona and DeLauter for a 5-2 lead. DeLauter showed a strong performance pitching during the second and third innings.

The offense for the Dukes continued to flourish with another run by Griffin and a Semones home run for a 7-2 lead for the Dukes. Zona sent Semones and sophomore infielder Carson Bell home in the bottom of the fourth for an eight-run lead. 

Freshman pitcher Hunter Entsminger was sent in as relief for DeLauter, allowing him to become the designated hitter for the team at the top of the fifth inning. Quinnipiac scored, cutting the lead to seven early in the sixth inning, then followed it with a three-run home run to bring the game to 4 runs. The Bobcats followed their productive sixth inning with two home runs to bring the game to 10-9. 

JMU brought back the deficit in the bottom of the seventh with a run by Griffin, putting the pressure on relief freshman pitcher Andrew Weight, who closed out the top of the eighth to preserve the Dukes’ lead. At the top of the ninth, Quinnipiac tied the game, forcing the Dukes to send in relief sophomore pitcher Eli Ottinger. To end the game, DeLauter sent the ball centerfield for Zona, giving JMU the walk-off win.

The Dukes will take on VMI on Tuesday at 3 p.m. before hosting Rider this weekend

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