JMU baseball

Sweeping Norfolk State last weekend and topping Lafayette on Friday, the Dukes are 5-0 to start the season for the first time since 1994.

JMU extended its perfect start to the 2019 season Friday afternoon as it defeated Lafayette 5-3. A seven strikeout outing from junior pitcher Kevin Kelly helped the Dukes remain undefeated.

JMU made contact with the ball in three separate innings, but a string of errors from Lafayette allowed the Dukes to get a few players across home plate. The Leopards made it a one-run game at one point, but a two-run seventh inning from JMU helped buy insurance runs and extend its lead.

“I was proud of the way our guys came out and battled,” head coach Marlin Ikenberry said. “We had some big days playing small ball … We talk about extending the lead all of the time. We extended the lead in the seventh and our bullpen struck out seven of the last nine guys. The back of our bullpen set the tone to end the game.”

The first two innings were rather uneventful, with both teams combining for just three hits. Then, in the bottom of the third, JMU broke the deadlock after a few mistakes allowed the Dukes to score two quick runs. Sophomore catcher/utility Michael Morgan had an RBI groundout to add another, making it 3-0.

Lafayette didn’t get on the board until the fifth inning, when senior third baseman/outfielder Dan Leckie slid home after freshman infielder/pitcher Nick Zona couldn’t get a handle on the ball. Junior infielder/outfielder Trey Durrah had an RBI single to cut the deficit to one, but Kelly remained calm and was able to get out of the inning.

Kelly pitched through six innings, giving up only four hits and no earned runs. The Springfield, Virginia, native is now 2-0 this season and has a 0.00 ERA.

“It feels good, but I didn’t really throw my best stuff today,” Kelly said. “I threw more balls than what I wanted to, but I was able to come back even when I was down in the count.”

Lafayette hung around, but in the bottom of the seventh, the Dukes were able to tack on extra runs. Junior outfielder DaVonn Griffin’s RBI single brought home reigning CAA Player of the Week freshman infielder Trevon Dabney home. Zona grounded into a double play, but he was able to bring one more run home. With two more innings to play, JMU held a 5-2 lead.

“Just getting that extra insurance run really helped out because if we don’t get that and they score, they’d get close to tying. Getting that extra cushion helped the team out and people got on base to even give me a chance to score them. It’s just really important to get that extra run.”

The Dukes have started the season 5-0, a feat that hasn’t been done since 1994. JMU will now have a double-header on Sunday to finish the series against Lafayette.

Contact Noah Ziegler at zieglenh@dukes.jmu.edu. For more baseball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.

There comes a time where an athlete realizes their true potential. When I realized that I was never going to make a living on the court, I figured I’d make it on the sidelines. I hope to be able to attend and cover the World Cup and NCAA tournament.