Hofstra baseball splits doubleheader with JMU in final regular season series
In the opening day of their final series of the regular season, the Hofstra Pride baseball team split a doubleheader at home against James Madison University, winning the first game 4-1 before being edged out in the second match 2-3 on Friday afternoon, May 11.
Pitcher John Rooney had himself a day in the first match, striking out nine batters and allowing just three hits to earn his eighth win of the season.
Behind the bat, the Pride wasted no time to get on the board as a Mikey Riesner single to right field brought home Steven Foster, cementing an early 1-0 lead.
After holding the Dukes scoreless in in the bottom of the first, the Pride again came out fast in the second and added to their lead behind an RBI single by Tyler White, and a wild pitch that brought home Matt Siedem.
“[I’m] really proud of our team to come out there in the first Inning. Foster walks, Austin [Gauthier] moves him over on the bunt and then Mikey [Riesner] gets the big hit down the right-field line to put us up 1-0 right away. I thought that just eased us a little bit into the day,” said Hofstra head coach John Russo.
The third inning finally saw James Madison get on the board, as DaVonn Griffin tripled, then came home on a squeeze bunt from Michael Morgan.
Despite the quick resurgence by the Dukes to get back within two, Hofstra sealed it in the fifth inning as a Rob Weissheier double brought Riesner home for the Pride’s fourth run of the game.
Closing the game on the mound for Hofstra was Chris Weiss, pitching a scoreless ninth inning to earn his ninth save of the season.
Game 2 was a bit more contested than the first, as a low-scoring matchup finally broke even in the ninth as an RBI single set James Madison ahead 3-2 to split the Friday afternoon series.
Showing his prowess from the mound this time was JMU pitcher Kevin Kelly, who outdid Rooney’s first game heroics, pitching 12 strikeouts while allowing two runs on five hits through 7 1/3 innings.
“He had really good stuff, really deceptive,” Russo said. “The ball got on top of you in a hurry. I don’t know what his velocity was, but Mikey [Riesner] was swinging the bat as good as anybody and couldn’t hit him that well. Vito [Friscia] had a lot of trouble with him. All of our guys were saying how good his stuff was. Hat tip to him.”
Like the first game, Hofstra was the first to get on the board as a deep left-field bomb by Teddy Cillis brought them ahead 1-0. The home run was Cillis’ fifth on the season, separating himself from Weissheier and Vinnie Costello for second on the team behind Friscia.
The Dukes answered in the third with a run of their own generated by a Fox Semones single to center field which allowed Griffin to get his second of three runs on the day.
In the seventh, a JMU double put the Dukes ahead 2-1, only to have Hofstra answer in the eighth, knotting it up 2-2 heading into the ninth.
After Weissheier and Michael James allowed only two runs on a combined eight hits through eight innings, Andrew Mundy was charged with the loss on Friday afternoon after giving up the game-winning run on a base hit by Semones in the final inning.
The loss was Mundy’s first of the season.
The split sets the teams up for the series winner on Saturday, May 12, which will also be senior day for the Pride.
For the six seniors on the active roster, Foster, Cillis, Weiss, Matt Weissheier, James and Riesner, Saturday will be the last time they step on the Hofstra diamond for the career.
“This is always a super tough week for me emotionally,” Russo said. “It’s going to be a really tough day for me tomorrow overall to know that those guys won’t be on this field ever again. They’ve done a lot for this program.”
First pitch on Saturday, May 11 is scheduled for 1 p.m. with pregame ceremonies set to begin at 12:40 p.m.
Image courtesy of Hofstra Athletics