March 14, 2008
LEXINGTON, Va. - Marshall University junior center fielder Nate Lape tallied his eighth home run of the season to help lift the Herd to a 4-3 victory over VMI in Friday afternoon's non-conference baseball game at Gray-Minor Stadium.
With the victory, Marshall wins its fourth straight to improve to 6-6 overall, while VMI drops its seventh decision in a row to fall to 4-10 on the season.
Trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the fifth, VMI tied the game with one swing of the bat, but Marshall's go ahead run in the seventh was enough to propel the Herd to its sixth victory of the season.
Junior left-handed starter Andrew Blain threw four scoreless innings before giving up a three-run home run in the fifth. Blain then pitched three more scoreless innings and finished the game allowing just the three runs on six hits. He struck out four and walked two to up his record to 2-1 on the season.
Herd freshman right-handed reliever Arik Sikula came on in the bottom of the ninth and retired the side in order en route to his second save of the season.
Lape led off the Marshall second with his eighth home run of the season, a deep shot to straightaway center field to give the Herd a 1-0 advantage. VMI senior left-hander Trey Barham was able to retire the next three batters in order and get out of the inning after surrendering the home run.
Marshall struck again in the top of the fourth when senior left fielder Jeff Rowley tallied a lead-off double to right field, advanced to third on a ground-out and then scored on junior right fielder Kurt Lipton's double to right field to increase the lead to 2-0. Marshall had two runners on but Barham was able to induce an inning-ending fly out to center field to escape further trouble.
Blain held the Keydets scoreless through the first four innings and allowed just one hit in the top of the fourth. Blain used a pair of nice defensive plays from junior third baseman Brandon Casamassima
(including a double-play in the second) to help retire the first nine batters in order.
The Herd added a run to its lead to 3-0 in the top of the fifth when junior shortstop Adam Yeager bunted his way on base, stole second, advanced to third on an error and reached home on freshman second baseman Kenny Socorro's RBI groundout.
VMI tied the game at three in the bottom of the fifth when sophomore center fielder Justin Hess placed two-out three-run home run just over the wall in left field. Blain was able to force a Keydet popup to end the inning.
In the top of the seventh, Marshall broke the 3-3 deadlock when freshman designated hitter Victor Gomez sent his first collegiate home run over the fence in right center to lift the Herd to a 4-3 lead. Yeager reached on a single and eventually moved to third but sophomore right-handed reliever Matt Edwards was able to avoid a further threat, retiring the next three batters in order.
VMI tallied a two-out single, followed by a double to place both runners in scoring position. However, the Keydets could not plate any runs in the inning as Blain pitched his sixth scoreless inning of the game.
The Herd returns to action Saturday against VMI. Game time is slated for 2:00 p.m. Junior right-hander Steve Blevins will get the start for Marshall.