JMU baseball won 5-4 on Tuesday in unique fashion against the VMI Keydets. Tied at three in the top of the ninth, a wild pitch strikeout by redshirt sophomore pitcher Nick Robertson would bring the go-ahead run in for VMI. Then, with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, VMI’s junior pitcher Derek Tremblay hit freshman infielder Carson Bell and freshman catcher/utility Michael Morgan to give the Dukes a walk-off victory.
“We didn’t deserve to win that game,” head coach Marlin Ikenberry said. “But I tell the guys all the time, baseball is a great game because there’s no time clock and each team has got to get 27 outs. We had some really good at-bats late in the game and did a good job extending their reliever.”
Junior first baseman Brady Harju, who tied the game at three in the sixth inning with a two-run home run, was shocked by the abstract finish. A wild ninth inning brought a rollercoaster of emotions, but finishing off the game with a win made everything that much sweeter.
“That was a blast at the end there,” Harju said. “They just battled there at the end, Carson came in and got his first career at-bat … that was really fun to see.”
Harju’s home run was the second blast of the day, after sophomore outfielder Conor Hartigan hit a solo shot in the bottom of the fourth inning. After getting ahead in the count, Hartigan baited the VMI pitcher into leaving something over the plate.
“It was a 2-0 count and I was looking for something over the middle of the plate to get my best swing off,” Hartigan said. “That’s all you can do in that situation, put a good barrel on it.”
As for Harju’s home run to tie the game, Hartigan was moving on the pitch and Harju took advantage of the hit-and-run situation. He got the pitch he wanted and took it to right-center field.
“It was a run and hit,” Harju said. “So, I was just looking for a fastball to drive and I got one middle away [and] got a barrel on it.”
Both home runs were big for the Dukes, after starting sophomore pitcher Justin Showalter gave up three runs by the top of the third. JMU used five pitchers throughout the game, although they recorded a season-low six strikeouts combined. Robertson earned his first win of the season after pitching a third of an inning to close out the ninth.
JMU will travel later this week to face the No. 8 Louisville Cardinals. This will be the Dukes’ first trip on the road this season, as well as the first against a ranked opponent.
“It’s going to be good,” Hartigan said. “Nice to get out of Harrisonburg for a little bit and go play some good competition like Louisville. Hopefully we can carry this over. We’ve been hitting good, pitching good and we’ve been doing great team baseball things. I think if we do that, then the sky’s the limit for us.”
JMU, now 7-1 (0-0 CAA) on the season, will begin its three-game series against the Cardinals on Friday. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.
Contact Brandon Ellis email@example.com For more baseball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.