Marshall baseball’s rally comes up just short in final innings versus rival West Virginia

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The Marshall University baseball team’s late-game rally against in-state rival West Virginia University came up just short Wednesday in Morgantown as the Herd fell 9-8.

With the Herd (21-17, 10-8) trailing 4-3 heading into the seventh inning, West Virginia slapped in five runs in the seventh inning as Marshall cycled through three different pitchers in the inning.

However, in the top of eighth the Herd bats inflicted similar damage to the Mountaineer staff scoring five runs of its own.

Junior center fielder got things started for the Herd in the eighth with a leadoff single. After left fielder DJ Gee was walked, West Virginia made a pitching change with no outs and two runners on, but Marshall first baseman Tommy Lane kept up the offensive attack knocking a single to left field that scored Bird.

Second baseman Aaron Bossi repeated Lane’s hitting with a single down the third base line, bringing third baseman Tyler Ratliff to the plate with the bases loaded. Ratliff belted a shot to left that carried over the wall, resulting in a grand slam and four RBIs for the sophomore.

However, the Herd couldn’t muster another run to tie the game despite still having zero outs following Ratliff’s homer.

The Herd still had a chance in the top of the ninth after Burris Warner took the mound in the bottom of the eighth and pitched a scoreless inning. The Herd faced an early scare of falling into a bigger hole with the first two West Virginia batters notching singles, but Warner shut down the threat retiring the next three batters, including a strikeout to end the inning.

Despite the Herd having the top of its order due up to start the final half inning, it couldn’t get any momentum going from the plate. Bird struck out swinging for the first out. Gee followed Bird with a fly out to right and Lane went down swinging as well, leaving Marshall one run short.

Ratliff’s grand slam led the Herd’s run production, but Bird also registered three hits in five at-bats, while Bossi added a pair of singles as well.

On the mound freshman starter Wade Martin was given the quick hook after pitching just two innings, allowing three hits and two runs, only of which was earned. Patrick Murphy relieved Martin and pitched the next 3.2 innings, giving up two earned runs en route to be given the loss.

Pitchers Caleb Ross and Heston Van Fleet suffered through the five-run seventh inning. Ross couldn’t secure an out and gave up two runs on three hits. Van Fleet finished off the inning, but not before allowing three earned runs of his own.

Wednesday’s loss was the second and final game between the rival schools with West Virginia taking the first as well when it defeated the Herd, 5-4, in extra innings April 5 at Power Park in Charleston, West Virginia.

The Herd will be back in action 7 p.m. Friday when it begins a three-game series with Conference USA opponent Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

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