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Herd baseball suffers home sweep against FAU, falls to last in Conference USA

Marshall%2C+sporting+home+white+jerseys%2C+plays+defense+as+it+attempts+to+stifle+Florida+Atlantic+in+game+one+of+its+Saturday+afternoon+doubleheader+in+Charleston%2C+West+Virginia.+The+Herd+plays+its+C-USA+matchups+at+Appalachian+Power+Park%2C+which+is+also+home+of+the+Pittsburgh+Pirates%E2%80%99+minor+league+affiliate%2C+the+West+Virginia+Power.
Marshall, sporting home white jerseys, plays defense as it attempts to stifle Florida Atlantic in game one of its Saturday afternoon doubleheader in Charleston, West Virginia. The Herd plays its C-USA matchups at Appalachian Power Park, which is also home of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ minor league affiliate, the West Virginia Power.

Marshall, sporting home white jerseys, plays defense as it attempts to stifle Florida Atlantic in game one of its Saturday afternoon doubleheader in Charleston, West Virginia. The Herd plays its C-USA matchups at Appalachian Power Park, which is also home of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ minor league affiliate, the West Virginia Power.

Rick Farlow

Rick Farlow

Marshall, sporting home white jerseys, plays defense as it attempts to stifle Florida Atlantic in game one of its Saturday afternoon doubleheader in Charleston, West Virginia. The Herd plays its C-USA matchups at Appalachian Power Park, which is also home of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ minor league affiliate, the West Virginia Power.

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After achieving a 10-4 win-loss record to start the season, the Marshall baseball team lost eight of its next nine games, including a three-game sweep at the hands of Florida Atlantic over the weekend at Appalachian Power Park.

“Every team is going to go through some adversity,” head coach Jeff Waggoner said. “And how you handle that is either going to make you a great team or it’s going to knock you down so much that you can’t get back up.”

After the postponement of Friday night’s game due to weather and poor field conditions, the teams played games one and two in a Saturday doubleheader.

The Herd lost game one 3-2. The matchup was a pitcher’s duel, as Herd junior right-hander Josh Shapiro opposed FAU’s senior lefty Jake Miednik on the mound. Shapiro went six innings allowing one earned run and two hits while striking out five and walking two. Miednik went six innings full, as well, and allowed one earned run (another unearned) and five hits while striking out 10 and not allowing  a walk.

Marshall jumped out to a two-run lead heading into the fifth inning, as junior third baseman Raul Cabrera hit a solo home run in the second and junior catcher Reynaldo Pastrana doubled in the fourth. FAU answered, though, with a run of its own in the sixth off of an RBI single by junior third baseman Joe Montes. In the eighth inning, FAU scored two more to take a 3-2 lead, as Marshall senior relief pitcher Gordon Cardenas allowed an RBI triple and an RBI single. The Herd would not rally for additional runs and Cardenas was charged with the loss.

“I told the team, ‘your backs are against the wall right now you got a great (FAU) team—a top-10 RPI team—it’s going to take everybody,’” Waggoner said. “We’re down some guys, and it’s going to take the next guy to step up and get the job done and work through this.”

Game two featured a slugfest, as the teams combined for eight total home runs. After FAU jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first, the Owls’ sophomore outfielder Cody Wilson and freshman infielder Andru Summerall hit back-to-back solo home runs in the third. FAU took a 3-0 lead.

Marshall tied it in the bottom half of the inning, though, as sophomore second baseman Peter Hutzal hit a three-run shot over the right field wall. Then, in the fifth, Hutzal propelled the Herd to a 4-3 lead with a solo home run, his second homer of the game. The Herd’s lead didn’t last long, though, as FAU sophomore second baseman Richie Nizza joined the home run club with a sixth inning two-run shot. Once again, the Herd quickly responded as senior designated hitter Dakota Robbins tied the game with a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth.

FAU’s offense was relentless, however, as Summerall hit his second home run of the game in the seventh—a solo shot—followed by a ninth inning two-run shot by junior shortstop Tyler Frank. FAU once again had a three-run lead. Marshall rallied in the ninth, but scratched across only one run before Pastrana struck out with runners on second and third to end the game.

“I thought we played better in the second game,” Waggoner said. “We had a little bit of edge about us. We had chances in both games to open the game up. In the first game, we had a runner on third with less than two outs a couple times, and we didn’t get the swings we needed.”

Marshall entered Sunday on five-game losing streak and looked to avoid its second-straight series sweep. Marshall freshman right hander Chris Fryer started on the mound. He went three innings, allowing four earned runs on four hits and four walks.

FAU scored two in the first inning off of an RBI single and RBI double. Marshall answered in the bottom half of the first with an RBI single of its own, making the score 2-1. FAU extended its lead in third, though, with a Cody Wilson homerun. Then the wheels fell off for the Herd, as FAU scored 10 more runs—five in the fourth and five in the fifth—and achieved a 12-1 lead. Marshall scored two in the bottom of the fifth, but FAU answered with a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh.

Heading into the bottom of the seventh, the score was 17-3. Marshall needed to score at least five runs in the inning in order to avoid the 10-run mercy rule. However, FAU used two pitchers to get three outs and win the game in seven innings, completing the weekend sweep.

“We can still win a lot of games; we just have to take things one pitch at a time and get our confidence back,” Waggoner said. “Getting confidence back means everybody has to do their job and not rely on everybody else.”

Marshall’s record fell to 11-12 (1-9 C-USA)—its first losing record of the season. The Herd sits in last place in the Conference USA standings and looks to end its six-game losing streak, as it plays a home-and-home against Morehead State Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We talk a lot about just doing your job and not waiting for somebody else to do it,” Waggoner said. “I think we’ve gotten away from that. Know your role, know who you are as a player and not try to be somebody different. If we can get back to doing that, we’ll get back on track and win more games.”

Rick Farlow can be contacted at [email protected]

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