NEWARK, DE – Blue Hens DJ Long and Jimmy Yezzo each hit two-run home runs but the University of Delaware baseball team fell to James Madison University, 11-6, in the regular season and Colonial Athletic Association weekend series finale Saturday afternoon at Bob Hannah Stadium.
Delaware (33-20, 15-12 CAA) won seven weekend series this season and clinched the No. 3 seed in the upcoming CAA Baseball Championships. The Blue Hens will face James Madison (24-28, 11-15 CAA), which took the No. 6 seed in the tournament with today's victory.
The opening round game between the Hens and the Dukes will be played on Wednesday, May 22 at 3:30 p.m. at JMU's Veteran's Memorial Park.
"We come right back and play these guys at their place," said Delaware head coach Jim Sherman. "A good workout on Tuesday in Harrisonburg will help us prepare for the tough road ahead to win the championship."
Prior to Saturday's game the Blue Hens honored seven seniors – Chris Branigan, Eric Buckland, Andrew Burgess, Nick Ferdinand, Long, Steve Richter and Matt Soren - as part of the team's annual Senior Day festivities.
"Senior Day is always full of memories," said Sherman. "These seven guys gave a lot to the program and have one more week to really leave their mark."
Delaware pocketed eight base hits in the loss, as Branigan was the only Blue Hen with a multi-hit game after the left fielder went 3-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored.
UD's scoring came with two runs in the fourth, eighth and ninth innings. Delaware's offense started to come together in the fourth inning behind run-scoring hits by Branigan and Alex Mottle. In the eighth inning, Yezzo slugged his 13th home run of the season, a two-run shot over the left field wall. And in Long's final at-bat at Bob Hannah Stadium, the senior captain hammered a two-run home run over the left field wall for his eighth home run of the season.
Soren (4-5) suffered the loss for the Blue Hens after the right-hander was charged with seven earned runs on eight hits and four strikeouts in two innings of work.
The Blue Hens used seven additional pitchers; Luke Alicknavitch, Eric Sawyer, Taylor Mahoney, Brandon Hinkle, Richter, Dan Gatto and Buckland to complete the game. Combined the relievers held the Dukes to four runs (three earned) on six hits, three walks and five strikeouts in seven innings.
"Having the relievers produce today was a definite good sign despite the loss," said Sherman. "For these guys that haven't gotten much work have the ability to throw a quality inning prior to post-season will only helps us."
James Madison tallied 14 base knocks in the game as Casey Gross led the team with a three-hit effort that included three RBI and one run scored.
The Dukes scored all of their runs and took an 11-0 advantage through the fourth inning. Chad Carroll's RBI double and Conner Browns's two-run home run capped a three-run first inning. In the second inning Goss' three-run home run made the score 6-0 while Colby Roberts' solo blast in the third inning made the score 7-0. JMU added four runs in the fourth inning behind run-scoring hits by Matt Tenaglia and Cole McInturff.
JMU's Johnny Bladel (2-0) earned the win as the righty tossed 7.2 innings on the mound and limited the Blue Hens to four earned runs on seven hits and six strikeouts.
James Madison..... 431 300 000 - 11 14 2
Delaware.......... 000 200 22X - 6 8 2
WP – Bladel (2-0). LP – Soren (4-5).
– Bladel; Huffman (8) and Shaban. UD
– Soren; Alicknavitch (3); Sawyer (4); Mahoney (5); Hinkle (6); Richter (7);
Gatto (8); Buckland (9) and Burgess.
E – JMU – McFarland; Brown; UD – Long; Stoltzfus. DP – UD – 1. LOB – JMU – 10; UD –
6. 2B – JMU – McFarland; Goss;
Tenaglia 2; UD – Branigan 2; Mottle.
HR – JMU – Brown; Roberts; UD – Yezzo; Long. HBP – JMU – Brown; Shaban; Goss; UD – Ferdinand; Clark. SB – JMU – Carroll. WP – UD – Soren.