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Baseball Scores Four In The Ninth To Take Game Three Over USF, 9-6

March 8, 2009

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TAMPA, Fla. - Marshall University scores four runs in the top of the ninth inning to help the Thundering Herd rally past the University of South Florida, 9-6, in Sunday morning's baseball series finale at Red McEwen Field in Tampa, Fla.

With the win, Marshall improves to 4-5 on the season while USF moves to 5-5 overall.

It was Marshall's first win over a Big East opponent since the Herd took a 9-5 victory over then-member Virginia Tech in 1998.

Trailing 6-3 in the top of the eighth, senior outfielder Nate Lape reached on an infield error to lead off the inning and raced to third on a single through the left side by sophomore first baseman Victor Gomez. Freshman designated hitter Thor Meeks then tapped a fielder's choice to third and Gomez was thrown out at second with Lape forced to hold at third, giving Marshall runners on the corners with one out. Junior third baseman Josh Valle then singled Lape home, making the score 6-4, before sophomore second baseman Kenny Socorro was hit by a pitch to load the bases, sending starter Randy Fontanez from the game in favor of Shawn Sanford. Sophomore catcher Kevin Shackelford then brought home the fifth run of the game with a sacrifice fly to right field, cutting the deficit to one at 6-5. Sanford was able to force an inning-ending groundout and maintain a one-run lead.

In the bottom of the eighth, Trey Manz drilled a one-out double to left centerfield off junior reliever Austin Coan who entered in the seventh in place of junior starter Dan Straily. From there Coan tossed a strikeout and gave up a walk but a fly out kept the Bulls off the board heading to the ninth.

With the score set at 6-5 in favor of USF, senior shortstop Adam Yeager led off the Marshall ninth when he reached on a dropped third strike. He then proceeded to steal second and third and came full circle when senior left fielder Brandon Casamassima singled down the left field line. Lape moved the runner over with a sacrifice bunt, before Casamassima scored from second on an infield throwing error, giving Marshall a 7-6 lead. Sanford got the second out of frame on a foul fly ball, but another infield error gave the Herd runners on second and third with two outs. From there, Gomez scored on a passed ball and Valle scored on the third error of the inning for the Bulls.

Down 9-6 in the bottom of the ninth, Brandon Smith drew a one-out walk and moved to second a single through the left side by Chris Rey, but a 6-4-3 double play ended the game give Marshall the hard-fought victory.

Coan earned the victory and moves to 1-1 on the season, while Sanford suffers the loss and falls to 0-2 on the year. Coan pitched three innings of scoreless relief with a strikeout.

USF got its offense rolling in the bottom of the first inning when Jonathan Koscso drilled a two-out infield single and then advanced to second when Todd Brazeal reached on an infield fielding error. Rey was then hit by a pitch to load the bases before a balk sent Koscso trotting home with the first run of the game and advanced the runners 90 feet. From there, an infield single that glanced off the pitcher by Junior Carlin drove in Brazeal and gave the Bulls runners on the corners. Straily was able induce an inning-ending lineout to second base to keep the USF lead to 2-0.

In the top of the third frame, sophomore right fielder Ben Jurevicius delivered a one-out single to right field for the Herd's first hit of the game. The hit also extended his hitting streak to nine games. Yeager then moved Jurevicius over with a sacrifice bunt, but a groundout ended the side leaving Jurevicius stranded at second.

Lape led off the Marshall fourth with his third home run of the season, a deep shot to left center. The blast was is his first since Feb. 21 versus Old Dominion in the Herd's opening weekend at Wake Forest. From there, Fontanez retired the side in order, but Marshall cut its deficit to 2-1.

USF posted a four-run fifth inning when Peter Brotons singled into right center with one out. He then reached second safely on an infield fielding error that resulted in a fielder's choice for Mike Consolmagno. A walk to Ryan Lockwood loaded the bases for Koscso who ripped a two-run base-hit into left field. Brazeal's single through the right side packed the bags once again before Chris Rey doubled in two more runs, giving the Bulls a 6-1 lead. Straily was able to force a lineout and a groundout to avoid further damage in the stanza.

Marshall responded in the top of the sixth when Casamassima smacked a one-out single to left field. Lape followed that with a drive to left field, giving the Herd two runners in scoring position with just one down. From there, Fontanez issued back-to-back punch-outs to end the inning unscathed.

The Herd cut the gap to 6-3 in the top of the seventh when Socorro was hit by a pitch with one out before Shackelford sent a pitch flying over the wall in left field for his first collegiate-career home run. The two- run blast cut the USF lead in half, and following a strikeout by Fontanez, Yeager extended his hitting streak to eight games with a poke up the middle. From there, a groundout ended the inning before Marshall could do any more damage.

Lape finished 2-for-4 with a solo shot and two runs scored, Casamassima finished 2-for-5 with a run driven in, while Shackelford went 1-for-3 with three RBIs and a two-run homer.

Marshall returns to action Tuesday, March 10, when it hosts Kent State in a non-conference midweek home tilt. First-pitch is slated for 3:00 p.m. ET at George T. Smailes Field at The Kennedy Center on Route 2 in Huntington, W.Va. Admission is free.