It was a memorable conclusion to a long, long record-breaking night of baseball.
What made it especially sweet for Kyle McPherson is his RBI double in the 19th inning that lifted James Madison to a 7-6 victory over visiting Northeastern in the CAA opener on March 25.
Good morning! Did you miss Kyle McPherson’s 19th-inning walk-off double vs. Northeastern last night? Check it out: https://t.co/Mitudx4kcI
— JMU Baseball (@JMUBaseball) March 26, 2016
It was the longest game in the 47-year history of JMU baseball, surpassing a 15-inning affair against Coastal Carolina in 2000. It was also 14 minutes shy of the six-hour mark.
“It was a great feeling when I saw the ball carry over the right fielder’s head,” McPherson said. “It was awesome because it was also our first conference game. It was definitely the longest game I ever played in.”
Would he want to play 19 innings and nearly six hours again?
“If we win it’s alright with me,” he said.
The sophomore second baseman has done alright with a fishing rod and reeling in bass, though nothing he feels is worthy of bragging rights.
“I would not say that I have had a trophy catch, but I have caught a couple of pretty nice bass,” he said.
Before McPherson, who also occasionally does saltwater fishing, picked up a pole he picked up a rifle and hunted for deer.
“I normally hunt deer,” he said. “Hunting is what I grew up doing and I started to fish when I was a little older. The house we moved to had a lake near the back yard, so I started doing that.”
Whether is it deer, bass or saltwater McPherson has made a pastime of hunting and fishing when he is not engaged in the national pastime.
“It is something I always do in the off-season with family and friends,” he said. “It is something I do to just get away and have fun.”
He has had plenty of fun playing for Dukes. Through 32 games this season McPherson was hitting .270 with four homers and a team-high 26 RBIs. He has equaled last season’s home run output (four) and is only two shy of his RBI total, which he compiled while playing in all 51 games.
What stood out his freshman season is that he hit .317 and had a .401 on-base percentage. McPherson’s effort in 2015 resulted in being named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American while earning a host of CAA honors, including Rookie of the Year.
“I think it was just about keeping things simple and buying into what the coaches were talking about,” he said. “I wanted to do what I have always done and it just worked out.”
Plenty worked out for McPherson prior to joining JMU, not the least of which was being named the top-rated collegiate prospect in the state of Virginia coming out of Western Branch High School in Chesapeake.
After a stellar freshman year McPherson was not about to rest on his laurels and let things take care of themselves. Coming into this season there were parts of his game he felt needed work and diligently spent a good part of the off-season addressing those areas.
“There are always things to work on,” he said. “I would like to become more of a base-stealer. I would like to put together a lot more quality at-bats and use the field more.”
While his average is down, McPherson’s run production is solid and he has committed only five errors with an impressive .969 fielding percentage. As for the stolen bases he has four, which is halfway to last year’s total.
Off the field at JMU he is studying sport and recreation. At one point he thought he might want to get into the intelligence field. Alas, things change when young people get to college.
“I would kind of like to go down the path of being a player agent, or something like that,” he said. “I think that would be real cool and right now that would be my No. 1 (interest). Representing players and the communication aspect of it and other things seem real cool.”
After failing to be among the top six teams to make the conference tournament last May it undoubtedly be real cool for JMU to not just make the cut but perhaps open some eyes and prolong their season.
There is much work to do as heading into Tuesday’s home game against VMI the Dukes have lost seven of their last nine to fall to 13-19, but are only a game under .500 (4-5) in conference play.
“We will keep working hard and get after it every single day,” said McPherson, who figures the bass can wait. “We need to string together quality at-bats, play solid defense and I think we have a good shot at playing extremely well the rest of the season. I want to get into the CAA tournament, win it and go to an (NCAA) regional. I think we have the talent to do that.”
Above and middle: Through 32 games this season James Madison’s Kyle McPherson was hitting .270 with four homers and a team-high 26 RBIs — and at least one catch of the day. (Courtesy JMU Athletics)