Herd takes third game versus MTSU after five-run comeback

After losing the first two games of a three-game series to Middle Tennessee, the Marshall University baseball team used a late comeback to defeat the Blue Raiders in the third and final game of the series by a score of 8-6. Capping the comeback was a six-run seventh inning for the Thundering Herd.

The Herd improved to 12-13 overall and 4-5 in Conference USA following Sunday’s win. Freshman Hunter Sexton pitched four innings in relief, and earned the win on the mound.

“I’m glad to see our guys bounce back, we had a tough weekend,” head coach Jeff Waggoner said. “We talked about it before the series, we had to get to their bullpen. I thought we did that in the first two games we just didn’t put the swings on it that we needed to and make the routine plays that we need to make. Our starters did a good job of keeping us where we needed to be.”

Going into the seventh inning, it appeared that Marshall would be swept in the series, as the team was down 6-1. However, the inning began with a Reynaldo Pastrana walk, Cory Garrastazu single, and then Billy Sager walked, loading the bases.

Senior Leo Valenti delivered by doubling, cutting the deficit to 6-3. Junior Will Ray was hit by a pitch, which loaded the bases again for Marshall with no outs. Junior Tyler Ratliff recorded an RBI flyout to center field, making the score 6-4.

The next batter, senior Sam Finfer, then made his mark. He crushed a home run to right field, and gave the Herd its first lead of the game, 7-6. Although Marshall would add an insurance run in the eighth inning, Finfer’s blast would be all that was needed for the Herd to earn the victory over Middle Tennessee.

“We all knew that we needed to come back today,” Finfer said. “After we went down early it was tough, but we had to stay mentally tough and come back. Getting this win was huge to get us back on the right track because these next few weeks are going to be brutal.”

The schedule toughens up quickly for the Herd. Tuesday, the team travels north to Morgantown for an in-state battle against West Virginia University at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Marshall faces off against Virginia Tech at 6 p.m. at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston. Then next weekend, the team will travel to Birmingham, Alabama for a series against UAB.

“The next two weeks are going to be the hardest part of our schedule,” Waggoner said. “With the travel of West Virginia, then Virginia Tech, then UAB on the road. We’re going to see what we are made of in the next two weeks.”

Patrick O’Leary can be contacted at [email protected]