By Cody Norman, Staff Writer

Duquesne University Dukes catcher Jared Bowser did not get much of a chance to hit the ball after getting hit by a pitch twice as the George Mason University’s baseball team and Dukes totaled seven hit batsmen.

Although the Patriots were responsible for six of them, the team rallied from a four-run deficit to win its home opener 8-4 on Friday afternoon.
Having won 30 of their past 32 games played on Spuhler Field, the Patriots took the field in the home opener against a sliding Dukes team. Mason won its fourth consecutive game, improving to 8-4 on the season, while the Dukes dropped to 3-13 overall.

Senior starting pitcher Kevin Crum took the bump for the Patriots but just did not have his best stuff.

Crum struggled early, allowing three runs in the second inning before settling down and providing Mason with a solid outing. The staff ace allowed four runs in more than six innings, but command issues were apparent as he plunked five batters in the contest.

“[Kevin] competes [on] each and every pitch and you can see as he gets out of there, we’re still in the game even on a day when he didn’t have his best stuff,” said Head Coach Bill Brown.

The Patriots cut their deficit to 4-2 in the sixth inning when senior third baseman Mark Hill, who came into the game with a team-leading .537 batting average, powered home two runs on a blast to the left centerfield.

In the seventh inning, senior shortstop Ryan Soares doubled in a run before freshman designated hitter Anthony Montefusco gave the Patriots their first lead of the afternoon on a two-run single.

Mason added three more in the bottom half of the eighth inning on an RBI double from sophomore second baseman Brig Tison followed by a two-run homerun off the bat of Soares.

“I think we needed a little more energy in the first part of the game,” said Brown. “We went the first 15 outs without having as much as a loud foul ball, but we hung in there. We just kept plugging away at our at-bats and Montefusco had a great at-bat and got us the lead . . . But you’ve got to play all day long. You’ve got to play all 27 outs.”

Mason’s relief unit, consisting of senior Darren McLean and redshirt sophomore AJ Johnson, did not allow a run in nearly three innings as Mason earned the 8-4 come-from-behind victory over the visiting Dukes.

After taking the 5-4 lead through seven innings, the Patriots worked themselves in a bases-loaded situation.

McLean walked the leadoff batter, but got two quick outs on a sacrifice bunt and a flyout. Johnson, the team’s closer, came in and yielded two walks to load the bases. On a 1-1 count, left fielder Matt Carson, who had two hits in the game, flied out to end the inning.

Johnson pitched the ninth inning and gave up a walk and hit a batter to put runners on first and second. With two outs, Johnson was able to get out of the jam with a game-ending flyball.

While pitching was able to prevent runs, the Mason offense came on late in the game. In the first five innings, the Patriots managed only two hits.

Tison had four hits for the Patriots while scoring twice in a solid effort.

Hill continued his hot hitting going 1-for-3 on the afternoon, including his third homerun of the season coming in the sixth inning of Friday’s matchup.
Soares, who added his fourth homerun of the season, cashed in three RBIs, going 2-for-5 on the day.

Sitting at 8-4 in the early part of the 2010 season, Brown is rather pleased with the way his team has performed.

“The first thing you look for is how you’re playing defense,” Brown said. “Hitting comes and goes. If you pitch and you catch the baseball, you’re going to give yourself a chance to win. And we did that today; we made every play we needed to make. And we competed on the mound. It certainly wasn’t our best effort but we competed. And that’s what I’m looking for [early in the season].”

Mason will take the field again on Tuesday afternoon against the Richmond Spiders. The Patriots took a 6-4 loss in the first matchup between the two teams earlier this season.