By Andrew Arnao
The baseball team picked up three wins (8-6, 22-6, and 13-6) and a loss (12-1) in a four-game series at James Madison last weekend. Outfielder Bob Donato ’12 was named Patriot League Baseball Player of the Week after he helped lead the Orange and the Blue to a 4-2 record, their best start to a season since 2003.
The Bison entered the series having only defeated James Madison once in 22 previous meetings.
“This series against James Madison was one of the early matchups we had circled as a team because of our past history against them,” shortstop Carter Bumgardner ’13 said.
Last season’s matchup against JMU was particularly gruesome for the Bison, who lost four lopsided games, 37-7, 9-2, 26-15 and 19-12.
“Everybody had a lot of anger for what JMU did to us last year, beating us so badly,” pitcher Xavier Hammond ’15 said. “We all wanted to get back at them for that.”
Early on, it appeared the Bison were in for another rough road trip when the Orange and Blue were defeated 12-1 in the opener. Starting pitcher Ryan Ebner ’12 was unusually shaky, giving up nine runs in 3.2 innings. Donato led off the game with a home run, but that was all the offense the team could muster.
The team bounced back in a big way during the following doubleheader on Saturday. The first game of the doubleheader resulted in an 8-6 victory after the Bison came back from a four-run deficit in the sixth inning, with infielder Travis Clark ’13 providing the eventual go-ahead RBI single. Hammond earned the win while relief pitcher Alex Cillo ’12 earned the save after each pitched two effective innings.
“Our offense did a great job of scoring runs for us when we were behind in Game 2 and our defense did well to hold them to six runs,” Hammond said.
Everything started clicking in the second game of the day, when the Orange and the Blue busted out for a 22-6 victory, led by Donato’s two home runs and team record-tying eight RBIs. Pitcher Dan Weigel ’14 was also tremendous, carrying a no-hitter into the sixth before eventually giving up three earned runs in 7.1 innings.
Donato continued to rake in hits in the series finale on Sunday, reaching base five times and finishing the series with a .476 batting average and 11 RBIs. Pitcher Bryson Hough ’15 also made a strong starting debut, giving up only two earned runs through six innings and earning the win as the Bison triumphed 13-6.
“I thought our pitching staff did a great job throwing strikes and keeping JMU hitters off-balance,” infielder David Duffet ’12 said. “Our defense played well behind the pitchers, and our offense was able to score enough runs to win.”
The Bison make their home debut this weekend, playing a doubleheader on Saturday and a single game on Sunday against Niagara.
“This weekend Niagara will be another important step in that process as we are looking forward to playing at home and continuing our good play,” head coach Gene Depew said. “We can’t afford to sit back and be satisfied with one good weekend. We need to develop the consistency that will allow us to be competitive every weekend.”