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Marshall Athletics Notebook-June 26, 2012

Marshall Athletics

June 26, 2012

By Jack Bogaczyk


HUNTINGTON – Some Herd notes that mascot Marco would eat up:

They could have thrown a big party at a 19th hole somewhere, but the Marshall men’s golf program – then and now – delivered about as good a send-off as could be imagined for retiring veteran Coach Joe Feaganes’ career.

Last Friday, Herd alumnus Jonathan Clark won the West Virginia Open title at Edgewood Country Club in Sissonville, topping six Marshall products or current MU players on the leaderboard’s top 10.

Then, on Sunday, rising Herd senior and co-captain Nathan Kerns of Ironton posted five back-nine birdies, and back-to-back rounds of 66 to win the Mid-Ohio Invitational by two shots at Hickory Flats Greens in West Lafayette, Ohio.

“You always love to see your players perform well,” said Feaganes, who has spent a good part of the last month cleaning out his Henderson Center office, and is in his final week on the job after four decades at his alma mater. “It was all good to see, just tremendous.

“In the Open, if six of the top 10 isn’t the best we’ve done, it has to be close. I don’t know the answer to that, but we’ve had a bunch of former and current guys win or do well in the Open.”

Clark had two eagles in the final round and won the 79th State Open by six shots. Fellow Herd alum Christian Brand tied for second, with other former Feaganes pupils finishing tied for fourth (Sam O’Dell), seventh (Brian Anania), Scott Davis (eighth) and Bosten Miller (tie ninth).

“It’s a great way to go out,” Feaganes said.

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Here’s something Marshall Coach Doc Holliday may want as bulletin-board fodder.

An oddsmaking website recently picked point spreads for all 798 games scheduled this regular season by Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

The site forecasts the Thundering Herd as an underdog in eight of 12 games … and in seven of those eight in which the Marshall foe was favored, the Herd was at least a 9-point underdog. The exception was as a 2-point underdog at home against Ohio.

The site had Marshall favored to win at home against FCS member Western Carolina, and in Conference USA games against Rice and Memphis, plus a league road date at UAB.

As a point of reference, Marshall’s opponent was favored in nine of 13 games (including the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl) last season, and Holliday’s club went 7-6.

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As Marshall is heavily into selling football season tickets for 2012, fans might be interested to know that someone out there really is impressed with the Herd’s home, 38,019-seat Edwards Stadium.

Freelance writer Alex Callos of Cincinnati ranked all of the FBS stadiums – 1 through 124 – on this spring. Callos put Edwards Stadium at No. 39 on the list, which is second among 12 Conference USA venues to UCF’s Bright House Networks Stadium.

It’s a subjective list, of course, but Callos wrote that the Herd’s home since 1991 “packs a great atmosphere in a tiny place. The fans here are some of the best in the country … They also are considered some of the nicest and most friendly around. This is quite a place to some on a Saturday afternoon for some college football.”

And, yes, while UCF is leaving C-USA, Marshall might have to go some to get to the top of this kind of list when realignment arrives next season. Callos’ list has pending C-USA member Texas-San Antonio’s stadium at No. 30.

That would be the Alamodome.

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Finally, the hits – or pitches, as it may be – just keep on coming for Marshall’s baseball program.

While former Herd right-hander Dan Straily makes his second Class AAA start tonight (Tuesday) for the first-place Sacramento River Cats – current Herd players are making a name, too.

MU right-hander Aaron Blair made it 2-for-2 for Pitcher of the Week honors in the summer Cape Cod League. Blair is 2-0 for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, going 11 innings over two starts with no earned runs and six hits allowed, 15 strikeouts and four walks.

Blair is scheduled for his third start Wednesday night at home against the Harwich Mariners.

Meanwhile, outfielder Gray Stafford had found his stroke in the Prospect League for the West Virginia (Beckley) Miners. Stafford played third base this past season for the Herd, but is expected to move to the outfield next season.

Stafford has five homers and 14 RBI and is hitting .283 this season in the PL. In his last six games, Stafford is 8-for-22 with four homers in his last six games and has 10 RBI in his last nine outings.

Straily went seven scoreless innings (three hits, eight strikeouts) in his Triple A debut last Thursday against Fresno. He is scheduled to go tonight in Las Vegas against the 51s (Toronto farm club).

In the short-season Class A Northwest League, ex-Herd right-hander Joe Church got his first professional win Monday night in two innings of relief for the Eugene Emeralds against Salem-Keizer.