The Parthenon

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Herd baseball battles Mountaineers in marathon midweek matchup at Power Park

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Richard Crank
Marshall basketball head coach Dan D'Antoni and junior guard Jon Elmore converse with head baseball coach Jeff Waggoner before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

Marshall baseball battled WVU for 13 innings Tuesday night at Appalachian Power Park, but ultimately lost the contest 11-10 after five hours and 10 minutes of play.

“It was a hard-fought battle between both teams and it went back and forth the whole game,” head coach Jeff Waggoner said. “(It was) a long night for both teams. I’m proud of our guys. They went at every pitch, we had chances to win the game. (WVU) just had one better at-bat than we did, if you really break it down. We’ll regroup and be ready to go again.”

Junior left-handed pitcher Ryan Falls got the start for the Herd. Falls went 2 2/3 innings allowing 4 runs (two earned) on two hits two walks and one strikeout. Falls got the no-decision and now has a season ERA of 6.75 in seven appearances this season.

Falls was opposed by WVU sophomore right-hander Isaiah Kearns. Kearns went 2 1/3 innings allowing five runs (three earned) off of four hits and two walks. Kearns also struck out four batters.

WVU’s offense struck first in the top of the first inning, as the Mountaineers loaded the bases with no outs and scored two runs. Three bunts and two Marshall errors brought WVU sophomore first baseman Marques Inman to the plate. Inman hit a sacrifice fly to right field to drive in junior left fielder Braden Zarbnisky from third. Then, WVU took a 2-0 lead when junior second baseman Kyle Gray bunted into an RBI fielder’s choice.

The Herd, however, struck back in the bottom half of the inning with three runs of its own. After senior third baseman Kody Matthews walked and senior first baseman Will Ray was hit by a pitch, junior catcher Reynaldo Pastrana hit a three-run blast to straightaway center field, his ninth home run of the season, to give the Herd a 3-2 lead.

“It’s just (about) staying in your approach and staying simple—not trying to do too much,” Pastrana said. “It’s a hard-fought game, you can’t really dwell on it. We just have to put together a couple of games and we’ll be right back in it.”

WVU re-claimed the lead with a four-run third inning. After Falls got the first two outs of the inning, WVU scored four straight runs. It began when Falls walked Inman on four pitches, bringing Gray to the plate. Gray hit a two-run shot to right field to give WVU a 4-3 lead. Then, WVU freshman third baseman Tyler Doanes hit an RBI double followed by another RBI double by junior shortstop Jimmy Galusky. The Mountaineers took a 6-3 lead.

The offensive battle continued in the bottom half of the third, as the Herd once again struck back with runs of its own. After loading the bases, freshman shortstop Geordon Blanton hit a two-run single up the middle to cut WVU’s deficit to one. Then, junior left fielder Erik Rodriguez walked to load the bases once again for Matthews, who missed a grand slam by inches, as he flied out to the left field warning track to end the inning.

After holding off WVU’s offense in the top of the fourth, Marshall continued to battle back in the bottom of the fourth, as the Herd took a 7-6 lead off of two-straight RBI singles.

WVU tied it back up in the top of the fifth, though, with an RBI single of its own. Then, after a scoreless sixth inning for both teams, the Mountaineers scored two more runs to take a 9-7 lead over the Herd. It began when WVU sophomore designated hitter Chase Illig singled and advanced to second on a failed pickoff attempt. In the next at-bat, Galusky singled to drive in Illig and then advanced to second on the throw. Galusky subsequently scored when Zarbnisky doubled to right field.

For the third time in the game, however, Marshall quickly responded with runs of its own, as the Herd scored three in the bottom of the seventh to take the lead 10-9. It began when freshman short stop Geordan Blanton walked to lead off the inning. Then, Rodriguez reached on a fielding error, bringing Matthews to the plate with runners on first and second. He attempted a sacrifice bunt and wound up reaching on a throwing error by the pitcher. Blanton scored on the play while Rodriguez advanced to second. The next batter, junior center fielder Andrew Zban singled to drive in Rodriguez and tie the game at 9. Later in the inning, Pastrana achieved another RBI with a sacrifice fly that drove in Matthews and gave the Herd the lead.

WVU tied the game at 10 in the top of the eighth, though, with a solo home run by junior right fielder Darius Hill.

The slugfest came to an abrupt end after the eighth inning. As the game remained tied at 10 from the ninth to the 12th innings. That was, until Marshall surrendered the tie in the top of the 13th when Gray singled through the right side to score Hill and give the Mountaineers a 11-10 lead—a lead it would not relinquish, as WVU staved off Marshall’s offense in the bottom of the 13th to win the game.

“You have to give it up to everybody,” Pastrana said. “We earned every pitch since the beginning of the game. We battled some adversity and we bounced back. We were down in that game and we came back. You can’t really ask for more.”

Marshall will return to in-conference play this weekend, as the Herd travels to Miami for a three-game set against FIU beginning Friday.

“The great thing about this game is that you get to play a lot of games and you have to have a short memory,” Waggoner said. “And they will. They’ll be back. This is a tough team, they’re grinding it out and we’ll play good this weekend.”

Rick Farlow can be contacted at [email protected]

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