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Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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Herd Walks Off Redhawks

The+Herd+is+5-2+this+season+at+the+new+Jack+Cook+Field.
Courtesy of HerdZone
The Herd is 5-2 this season at the new Jack Cook Field.

The first-ever walk-off home run at Jack Cook Field sealed the deal for Marshall Baseball’s series victory over the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks on Sunday, March 10, in a 5-4 slugfest.

Despite pole-waddling winds blowing toward home plate, slugging the ball deep to right field was Herd senior Owen Ayers. Ayers batted in teammate Elijah Vogelsong at first base with a two-RBI ball-blisterer of a bat thwack to notch the victory for the Herd, who was down 3-4 entering the bottom of ninth inning in the final contest of Marshall’s second home series this season.

“I just never gave up on myself,” said Ayers, Marshall’s catcher and hero in the ninth inning. “I was having a tough day and knew it didn’t matter if [my batting count was] 0-2 or 2-0; I just had to have a good at-bat and stick to what we’ve been doing.”

Ayers was 1-4 at the plate during the contest, his only hit being the home run. It was Ayers’ team-leading fifth home run of the season, of which Marshall has 13 overall. No other Herd player has hit more than two home runs this season.

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“It was certainly a very exciting finish,” head coach Greg Beals said. “I’m really proud of Owen Ayers. He’s a great hitter. He didn’t have his best weekend, really, but all the way until the end, kept competing and got the big hit for us when we really needed it.”

After a scoreless first inning, the Redhawks’ designated hitter Gavin Baldwin scored teammate Ben Palmer from second base in the top of the second inning to take a quick one-run lead. Marshall right fielder Calin Smith responded with an RBI double to score AJ Havrilla, tying the contest 1-1 through the end of the second inning.

Palmer made it home yet again in the top of the fifth to retake the lead for the Redhawks, but another Herd RBI with Havrilla as the benefactor of a Vogelsong single tied the game two-all in the bottom of the sixth.

Caden Kaiser then scored the first home run of the game for the Herd in the bottom of the seventh, setting the blueprint for Ayers’ later moonshot with an over-the-wall route to right field. A run apiece in the top of the eighth and ninth earned a 4-3 lead for the Redhawks in the top of the ninth, and then Ayers’ bottom-ninth batting heroics secured the close win for the Herd.

“It was huge for our team,” Ayers said. “We battled all weekend.

Our players put up great at-bats, and I’m so proud of the way that the rest of the guys on the team were able to fight and help pick me up. It was such a team win.”

Marshall pitcher Griffin Miller closed and picked up his second win of the series, whilst Herd pitchers Cole Agemy and starter Carter Lyles battled through the contest with an efficient Redhawks dugout.

“We’ve got a big week coming up,” said Beals. “We’ve got an in-state rival on Tuesday and then we start conference play. It’s good to be in the win column here at Jack Cook Field and win another home series against a good ballclub.”

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