Herd baseball takes on Lehigh in first home game of season

The Marshall University baseball team welcomes Lehigh University for the Herd’s first home game of the season 12 p.m. Saturday at the Kennedy Center.

In Marshall’s last outing, the team lost all three of its games in the “Baseball at the Beach” tournament at Coastal Carolina University.

After losing two games (9-8, 7-3) to Liberty and one game (9-3) to Coastal Carolina, Marshall pitcher JD Hammer said the team is looking to make major adjustments heading into its first homestand of the season.

Hammer, a right-handed pitcher from Fort Collins, Colorado, said the team is excited to open up on its home field.

“We’re really excited to have our home opener this weekend,” Hammer said. “It gives us a really great opportunity to get back on track and play how we know we’re capable of playing. Lehigh is a great program but our preparation has been good as a team this week in practice, and we’re ready to have a good weekend here at home.”

In Hammer’s last outing against Coastal Carolina, the 6-foot-3 senior pitched 5 innings with seven strikeouts and four earned runs.

Hammer started off strong against 19th-ranked Chanticleers after only allowing one run off two hits through the first four innings.

Heston Van Fleet, a right-handed pitcher from Kingsville, Texas, said he thinks the key to having a strong weekend is to set the tone from the very first pitch.

“Our starting pitchers need to be able to go out there and pitch deep into the game so the relievers can come in later and do their job,” Van Fleet said. “We just need to play better defense as a whole and eliminate the big innings that have been happening.”

Van Fleet said as far as the team’s offense goes, it needs the timely hits when runners are in scoring position.

Lehigh is rolling off a three-game win streak after it opened up its season last weekend against Norfolk State University. However, Van Fleet said he does not think the 3-0 Mountain Hawks are a threat to the 1-5 Herd.

“We won’t have to deal with all the traveling this weekend, which can really wear you out,” Van Fleet said. “Playing at home has its advantages because it’s so much more of a comfortable feeling. It’s going to be good to finally play in front of our fans.”

Marshall kicks off its home opener in a double-header at the Kennedy Center, which is located off Route 2 in Huntington.

Brittanie Fowler can be contacted at [email protected].