BLACKSBURG, Va. – The Virginia Tech Hokies lost to James Madison, 7-5, in non-conference college baseball action on Saturday night at English Field, despite another strong pitching performance from starter Joe Mantiply. With the loss, the Hokies fall to 27-21 overall, while JMU improves to 31-15 on the season.
Mantiply worked 7.1 innings and allowed just two earned runs while striking out six. He retired the side in order in four of the first five innings, allowing only a single and a walk in the third. Over his last five starts, he has thrown 33 innings and allowed just seven earned runs for a 1.91 ERA.
While Mantiply was working on the hill, the Hokies were able to give him a three-run lead, with a run in the second and two more in the third.
Tech got the scoring started in the second when first baseman Ronnie Shaban led off with a single up the middle. He stole second base with one out and scored on a two-out double to left-center by catcher Chad Morgan.
In the third, the Hokies added two more with a two-out rally. Left fielder Andrew Rash reached on an error and Shaban and centerfielder Tony Balisteri singled to load the bases. For Shaban, it was his 199th career hit as a Hokie and his now just one hit shy of reaching the 200-hit club, as Seaborn and Smalling also notched their 200 hits this season. If he does, he will be just the sixth Hokie to reach 200 as a junior.
Rightfielder Chad Pinder would then singled to left field, driving in Rash and Shaban to give the Hokies a 3-0 advantage.
Duke starter Sean Tierney lasted just three innings, allowing those three runs, one earned, on seven hits. D.J. Brown (8-1) earned the win after throwing six innings of relief, allowing four hits, two runs and striking out a career-high nine batters.
With Brown holding Tech scoreless over his first four innings of work, it gave JMU a chance to make a come-back. They finally broke into the scoring column in the top of the sixth inning. With one out, Johnny Bladel walked and moved to third on a double to right by Jake Lowery. After Alex Foltz walked, Matt Tenaglia singled to right, scoring Bladel and Lowery and cutting the Tech lead to 3-2.
The Dukes took the lead in the top of the eighth inning. After Mantiply got the first out in the inning, Jake Joyce relieved him and issued a walk to Foltz and Tenaglia then hit his ninth home run of the season giving him four RBI in the game.
Joyce (2-3) then hit David Herbek and was replaced by Jake Atwell, while Herbeck was replaced by pinch runner Cole McInturff, who stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error. He then scored on a single to left by Connor Brown, giving JMU a 5-3 lead.
In the bottom of the eighth, Rash was hit by a pitch and moved to third on a one-out single to right by Balisteri. Following a strikeout, Rash then scored on a wild pitch by Brown.
JMU pushed across two runs in the top of the ninth. With one out, Foltz double to left, scoring Ian Haynes and Lowery.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, Atwell and Seaborn singled and shortstop Tim Smalling walked to load the bases. Then, with two outs, Ronnie Shaban walked to force in Atwell and cut the lead to 7-5. But Balisteri then flied out to right to end the rally.
The two teams will wrap up the series on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m., at English Field.
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