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Herd Roars Back from Six-Run Deficit, Beats Liberty 12-10

Thor Meeks hit the go-ahead home run in the eighth Sunday afternoon

April 1, 2012

Final Stats

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Beckley, W.Va. -- On the same day that junior centerfielder Isaac Ballou became Marshall’s all-time triples leader, the Thundering Herd baseball team roared back from a sixth-inning, six-run deficit to defeat the Liberty Flames 12-10 and avoid a series sweep Sunday at Linda K. Epling Stadium. 

Marshall improved to 11-16 and recorded its largest come-from-behind victory since rallying from a seven-run deficit to beat Memphis on March 22, 2009. 

“I was proud of the way they came back,” said Marshall head coach Jeff Waggoner.  “They never gave in, and they battled all the way to the end.”

After falling behind 8-2 midway through the sixth inning, Marshall scored 10 unanswered runs over the next three innings to surge into the lead.  The Herd scored five runs in the sixth to bring the contest to within one, one run in the seventh to tie, and four runs in the eighth to take the lead and put the game away. 

Liberty needed three pitchers to work through the sixth and another three to work through the eighth as Marshall claimed nine hits and five walks in those two innings alone. 

Nathan Gomez scored the tying run in the seventh on a wild pitch from Liberty reliever Patrick Bankemper, and Thor Meeks provided the game-winner in the eighth with a solo home run to straight-away center field. 

“They had an opportunity and took it,” continued Waggoner.  “It was a great win because of the way we played and the way we came back.  That’s the team we can be if we continue to stay positive and play with confidence.”

Freshman right-hander Lance Elder (1-1) picked up the win after keeping the Flames hitless in the seventh and eighth; he walked one and struck out two.

Bankemper (2-1) suffered the loss, allowing two earned runs on two hits in one and two-thirds innings.

Once Meeks gave the Herd the lead in the eighth, Marshall went on to score three more times as Ballou’s triple along with singles from Gray Stafford and Eric Escobedo all plated runs. 

Ballou hit his 12th career triple on a 1-0 pitch and passed Jim Reynolds to stand alone in the all-time lead.  The junior tallied three triples in his freshman season, seven in his sophomore season (also a Marshall record), and two more so far this season.

“I have been blessed to stay healthy enough to play and not be injured,” said Ballou on becoming a record holder.  “I know we have had a lot of guys come through [this program] and battle injuries, but God has blessed me by keeping me healthy.” 

Alfredo Brito also singled in the eighth and thus continued his 15-game hitting streak. 

If the game had not been interesting enough until the ninth, it nearly took a turn for the worse for Marshall in the final inning when Liberty worked the bases loaded with nobody out.  Jesse Fernandez, who entered the game with a 12-8 lead, allowed two hits and a walk before a Marshall error cut the lead to 12-9 and put the tying run on first.  That runner made it to second as a wayward pitch to Ryan Cordell allowed a run to come in and move the other runners up. 

Fernandez eased his way out of trouble with a strikeout, though, to retire the side and put Marshall back on the winning track.  In all, Fernandez allowed two runs (none earned) on two hits; he struck out three and walked one. 

Liberty (25-6) put a run on the board in the top of the first when Andy Smith won a 10-pitch at-bat and dealt a solo home run down the right field line off Marshall starter Wayland Moore

The Flames added four more runs to that lead before Marshall would get on the board with two in the bottom of the fifth.  Liberty used a couple of Marshall errors in the third to score twice, then two singles and a walk in the fifth to score a pair more and go ahead 5-0.

Andrew Dundon had a two-out single to center field that scored two runs for Marshall in the fifth. 

Freshman Escobedo finished the game with a career high three hits (3-for-5).  He also drove in two runs and scored once.  Meeks (2-for-3), Sergio Leon (2-for-4), and Dundon (2-for-3) also came through with multiple hits.  All nine of Marshall’s starting position players recorded at least one hit. 

Moore, despite being in line for the loss for the majority of the game, took his third no-decision of the season.  The junior went 4.2 innings, struck out three, and surrendered six runs (five earned) on six hits.  Ryan Hopkins came in middle relief and allowed three earned runs on five hits in 1.1 innings. 

Smith led the Liberty offense with a 3-for-4 performance where he drove in two and scored one.  Ian Parmley and Zack Haley each recorded two hits in the loss.