Game Preview: James Madison Dukes

Maryland baseball was nine outs away from winning a second consecutive series to begin Big Ten play, but Illinois scored three runs late to leave College Park with a pair of wins. The Terps offense showed signs of life—averaging 10 hits per game over the weekend—but their pitching faltered late to lose Sunday’s rubber game.

The Terps, 2-6 in midweek games, will look to improve that record on Tuesday, as they begin a home-and-home series on the road against James Madison on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Maryland beat the Dukes in both meetings back in 2016.

After the weekend, the Terps (15-17) are tied for eighth in the Big Ten with a 3-3 record in their first two conference series. While Maryland came up short over the weekend, there were several bright spots offensively.

First baseman Kevin Biondic continues to have an eventful senior season, going 5-for-11 at the plate and pitching two scoreless innings Sunday. His batting average has climbed to second on the team (.275) and his 0.55 ERA in 16.1 innings this season is still the lowest on the team.

After going hitless in Game 1 of Friday’s doubleheader, catcher Justin Morris went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBI, including a three-run blast to propel the Terps to a victory in Game 2. Picking up another hit on Sunday, Morris’ weekend is a pleasant sign with conference play still early. His homer Friday was his first of the season.

Second baseman Nick Dunn continues to be the consistent contributor in the Terps lineup, picking up a hit in all three games over the weekend. His .342 average is 67 points higher than Biondic, who is second on the team. Dunn, after the weekend, ranks fourth in the conference in home runs and total bases. The junior hit leadoff in the first two games of the series before moving back down into the three-hole for the series finale.

On the mound, Taylor Bloom struggled in Game 1, allowed all 10 runs Illinois earned. Maryland’s bullpen, though, didn’t allow a hit for the last four innings of the game. Grant Burleson, Alec Tuohy and Billy Phillips all had scoreless outings. Tyler Blohm and John Murphy combined to hold Illinois to just one run just hours later, earning Maryland’s win. After Hunter Parsons pitched another solid game on Sunday, three relievers all allowed runs to lose the series.

Similar to Maryland, James Madison (15-15) has had a back-and-forth season, quickly shifting from a positive result to a negative one from opponent to opponent. The Dukes swept High Point, beat a Richmond team that already took down the Terps, destroyed Tennessee 21-2 on the road, and dropped a close one-run game to a ranked Virginia team.

However, James Madison is also currently 2-7 in the conference, losing seven of it last nine games. The Dukes were just swept by College of Charleston over the weekend, and their offense only provided seven runs over the three games.

Freshman Josh Jones has led of the Dukes offense with a .330 average at the plate. He is second on the team with 32 hits in 28 games this season and is a perfect 7-for-7 on stolen base attempts. He started his college career by reaching base in 22 of his first 23 college games.

Coming off an incredible junior season where he hit .337 with 11 home runs, Adam Sisk is the other hitter on the team batting at least .300. He leads the Dukes in hits, total bases and runs scored. Sisk picked up four hits over the weekend, including a three-hit game on Friday.

The Dukes have three players with at least four homers. Sisk and sophomore Fox Semones have four, while sophomore Harry Brown leads the team with five. Brown, though, is very prone to strike out. He leads the team with 40 strikeouts in 30 games.

James Madison’s pitching has been a strength this season with a team ERA of 3.67. The Dukes top three starters all have ERAs below four and are holding hitters to a below .250 average. Their leading reliever, Garret Richards, has 2.25 ERA in a bullpen-best 20 innings pitched this season.

The team’s pitching was great again over the weekend, but didn’t have the run support. The staff allowed just 11 runs in the three games, but were swept. The bullpen allowed just one earned run the entire weekend.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

Tuesday, 6:00 p.m. EST

Fr. RHP Mark DiLuia (1-2, 6.97 ERA) vs. TBA

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Freshman Mark DiLuia’s season ERA is still high, but he looked just fine in his last start against William & Mary. The right-hander pitched six innings, allowing just one earned run on four hits and a walk. He also struck out six. DiLuia allowed his run in the very first inning, but tossed five consecutive scoreless frame to finish his outing. He pitched well enough to earn a win, but didn’t receive much run support from his offense. This will be DiLuia’s seventh start this season, and he’ll look to make it two strong midweeks starts in a row.

James Madison has yet to announce a starting pitcher.