Marshall Rallies but Falls to Liberty in Game One of Three-Game Series|
March 31, 2012
Beckley, W.Va. -- The Marshall baseball team erased a four-run deficit midway through Friday’s game but ultimately lost to Liberty 8-4 at Linda K. Epling Stadium.
After falling behind 4-0, the Thundering Herd (10-15, 1-2 C-USA) stormed back when Gray Stafford doubled in two runs in the fifth then tied the game up in the sixth with a two-out single. Liberty answered with three runs in the seventh and added an insurance run in the ninth to pull back ahead by four.
Herd starter Aaron Blair (1-4) took the loss despite striking out eight and scattering eight hits in six innings of work. The sophomore’s shaky start saw him concede two runs in the first when the Flames strung together four straight one-out hits. Blair settled down from that point on by striking out the next two to end the inning and start a streak where he retired eight straight hitters.
Liberty tagged him again in the fourth, capitalizing on back-to-back hits along with a sacrifice fly to score twice and pull ahead 4-0.
Stafford’s double to right-center field in the fifth began Marshall’s comeback. Alfredo Brito also doubled in a run in that inning as the Herd combined four hits with two walks and pulled within one.
An inning later, Stafford drove in Sergio Leon from second on an 0-2 pitch. Leon returned to the lineup for the first time since March 7, when he suffered an injury in the team’s loss to Kentucky.
Sophomore Josh King was brought in relief of Blair two batters into the seventh inning. The right-hander allowed two runs (one earned) in the single inning effort.
Stafford finished the game 2-for-5 with three RBIs. Alfredo Brito went 4-for-5 and extended his current hitting streak to 13 games. He has delivered multiple hits in six of the last 13 games.
Five Flame hitters recorded at least two hits, led by Alex Close’s 3-for-5 showing. Liberty middle reliever Patrick Bankemper (2-0) picked up the win, and Jared Lyons nabbed his first career save.
Marshall and Liberty will play game two of the series Saturday at 5 p.m. at Epling Stadium. The game will be available on Gametracker.