Feb. 22, 2008
CULLOWHEE, N.C. - Senior left fielder Jeff Rowley and freshman second baseman Kenny Socorro each went deep for the first time this season to help power the Herd to a 14-9 win over Western Carolina in the non-conference season opener for both teams at Hennon Stadium.
With the win, Marshall starts the season 1-0 and picks up its first victory against Western Carolina since the two teams met in 1997. The loss drops the Catamounts to 0-1 on the season.
Junior southpaw Andrew Blain clinched the victory by striking out five Catamount batters through five innings, and allowed just two runs on five hits in his first start of 2008. The Herd bullpen combined to shutdown the Catamounts, producing two scoreless, hitless innings of relief to end the game.
Solid pitching and excellent hitting gave the Herd a 9-2 lead heading in the bottom of the sixth before Western Carolina clawed its way back into the game scoring four runs of its own. With one out, sophomore shortstop Brent Greer singled, freshman right fielder Ryan Mathews was hit by a pitch, and junior pinch-hitter Andy John walked to load the bases. Greer and Mathews scored on a two-RBI single by senior second baseman Jason Haynes. John scored on a wild pitch, and Haynes scored on a fielder's choice by sophomore third baseman Nick Liles cutting the Herd lead to 9-6.
Western Carolina would get to within three one other time, but it would not be enough as the Herd was able to pull away to its first victory of the season.
Western Carolina recorded the first run of the game after Liles, who started the game with a single and eventually advanced to third, scored on junior left fielder JC Lyons' single through the left side, giving the Catamounts a 1-0 lead.
Junior center fielder Nate Lape led off the top of the second inning with a single to the right side, stole second base and advanced to third on an error, and scored on a fielder's choice by Sophomore first basman Josh Valle. Junior right fielder Kurt Lipton hit an infield single, advancing Valle to second. Lipton advanced to second on Socorro's single through the left side. Lipton scored on an overthrow during the same play, while Socorro advanced to third. Socorro proceeded to score on the Catamounts' third error of the inning, giving the Herd its second four-run inning of the game.
Rowley led off the top of the third inning with his first home run of the season giving the Herd a 5-1 advantage. Marshall loaded the bases on three free passes, but could not push across another run in the inning.
The Herd plated four runs in the top of the fourth inning that started with a junior shortstop Adam Yeager double to right center. Yeager scored on a fielder's choice ground out by junior third baseman Brandon Casamassima. Rowley and Lape followed that with back-to-back singles to left field before senior catcher Tommy Johnson laced a two-run triple to right-center field. Johnson scored on Valle's fielder's choice, extending the Herd lead to 9-1.
Western Carolina responded to Marshall's four-run fourth and cut its deficit to 9-2 on a solo homer to left field by Greer. However, the rally ended there for the Catamounts.
Following the Catamounts' big sixth inning, Marshall responded in the top of the seventh inning on a three-run home run by Socorro. Freshman designated hitter Victor Gomez reached base on a single, and Lipton was hit by a pitch before Socorro drove the ball 390 feet to center field. Senior infielder Matt Helm entered the game in the inning as a pinch-runner for Gomez.
Western Carolina drew three straight walks in the bottom of the seventh and plated three runs on Marshall's bullpen to cut the gap to 12-9.
Marshall added a run in the top of the eighth inning and a run in the ninth to extend its lead to five runs. Sophomore pinch-hitter Blake Sanders tallied an RBI double in the eighth, while Casamassima drilled an RBI three-bagger to right center in the ninth.
Freshman pitcher Ian Kadish pitched a scoreless, hitless eighth, and sophomore hurler Tyler Gatrell cemented the victory with a scoreless, hitless inning of his own.
Socorro finished 2 for 5 with four RBI's, Yeager went 4 for 6, and Rowley went 2 for 4 while Casamassima and Johnson each finished 1 for 5 with a pair of RBI's.
The Herd returns to action Saturday, Feb. 23 in the second game of the three-game series. Junior right-hander Steve Blevins will get the start against Western Carolina. First-pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.