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Towson drops series at James Madison

12 May 2013 By Jesse Jones, Sports Editor No Comments
Roberts’s walk-off home run seals Dukes’ late comeback bid

Down 7-6 in the bottom of the ninth inning at home Sunday, James Madison’s Colby Roberts hit a walk-off two-run homer off of Towson junior Nik Nowottnick to steal the 8-7 victory for the Dukes (22-26, 10-13 Colonial Athletic Association).

With the win on Sunday, the Dukes took the series from the Tigers (23-27, 12-12 CAA) 2-1.

Towson won the first game of the series 11-7 but lost the second game 16-3.

“It’s heartbreaking but that’s baseball,” junior outfielder Dominic Fratantuono said of the loss after the game.

Towson got off to an early lead in Sunday’s rubber match when sophomore outfielder Peter Bowles hit a runner-batted-in single that scored junior second baseman Pat Fitzgerald in the first inning.

Bowles would add to Towson’s lead in the third inning with a two-run homer in the top of the inning that brought home junior designated hitter Kurt Wertz.

Junior pitcher Brandon Gonnella held James Madison scoreless until the bottom of the sixth inning.

The Dukes hit two RBI doubles, one from Roberts and another from second baseman Conner Brown, that tied the game up at three runs apiece.

The Tigers regained the lead in the top of the seventh inning as Fratantuono hit a two-run homer to give his team a 5-3 lead.

But, the Dukes added three more runs in the bottom half of the inning to retake the lead at 6-5.

Pinch hitter Tyler Gregory started the scoring with a home run to right centerfield.

Roberts then tied the game up with an RBI single before shortstop Casey Goss grounded out to second base and allowed first baseman Ty McFarland to reach home.

After a scoreless eighth inning for both teams, the Tigers were left to their final three outs down by a run.

In the first at-bat of the inning, Wertz tied the game at six with a solo home run to right field.

Four batters later, with the bases loaded, sophomore first baseman Brendan Butler reached first base on a fielder’s choice and allowed Bowles to give the Tigers a 7-6 lead.

James Madison got out of the inning after sophomore outfielder Richie Blosser grounded out.

With one out in the bottom half of the final inning, Nowottnick walked McFarland before giving up the game-winning home run to Roberts in the next at-bat.

Gonnella finished the game with 6.1 innings pitched and gave up six earned runs off of 10 hits. However, he managed to strike out six batters.

Roberts finished the game 3-5 with four RBIs and two runs scored for the Dukes.

Wertz led the Tigers as he went a perfect 5-5 at the plate with one RBI and crossed home plate three times.

Towson now finds itself with only three games left to reposition itself in the conference standings as the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament approaches.

Towson currently sits in sixth place in the CAA, and only the top six teams make the conference tournament.

The Tigers will conclude the regular season with a three-game series at home starting Thursday against Northeastern.

“We’re going to finish the regular season strong and roll into the playoffs,” Fratantuono said.

Thursday’s game is set to start at 3:30 p.m.

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