Six-Run Seventh Inning Pushes @HerdBaseball over Middle Tennessee
Finfer's three-run home run capped comeback for Marshall
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A six-run seventh inning led the Marshall baseball team over Middle Tennessee Sunday afternoon to defeat the Blue Raiders, 8-6, at Appalachian Power Park.
With the win the Thundering Herd improves to 12-13 (4-5 Conference USA). Middle Tennessee moves to 13-15 (3-6 C-USA). Freshman Hunter Sexton (2-1) earned the win in relief, pitching four innings. Blake Stansberry (0-1) suffered the loss for Middle Tennessee.
It was smooth sailing for Marshall starting pitcher sophomore Patrick Murphy until the top of the third inning. The first three batters of the inning reached base, loading the bases with no outs. Austin Dennis brought in the first run for Middle Tennessee by hitting a sacrifice fly to left field. After an infield popup, Drew Huff singled for Middle Tennessee on a misplayed ball in the outfield, scoring two more runs. Ryan Kemp then singled, scoring the fourth and final run of the third inning for the Blue Raiders.
Tyler Ratliff got the Herd on the board in the bottom of the fourth. The third baseman led off the inning with a solo home run to left field. It was the junior’s fourth home run of the season and his team-high 26th RBI.
Murphy’s day on the mound ended in the top of the sixth inning, as Sexton replaced him after the first two batters reached base safely. Sexton recorded two consecutive outs, but then gave up back-to-back wild pitches that plated two for Middle Tennessee.
In the bottom of the seventh, trailing 6-1, the Thundering Herd turned things around. The frame began with a Reynaldo Pastrana walk, a Cory Garrastazu single to left center field and a Billy Sager walk to load the bases. Leo Valenti drove in the first two runs of the inning with a double off the wall in left field that scored Pastrana and Garrastazu. After Will Ray was hit by a pitch to load the bases again, Ratliff hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Sager. With runners at first and second, Sam Finfer hit a go-ahead 3-run homer to right field, giving the Herd its first lead of the contest, 7-6.
The Thundering Herd added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. Sager led off with a double down the right field line. Andrew Zban came into the ballgame to pinch run for Sager. During the next at-bat, Zban stole third and then advanced home on a throwing error by the MT catcher.
Sexton sealed the 8-6 victory for the Herd by striking out two batters and getting a fly out to left field in the top of the ninth.
Every Marshall player that came to the plate recorded at least one hit in the contest. Finfer led the Herd at the plate by going 1-for-4 with three RBIs and one run scored. Ratliff and Valenti each had one hit and two RBIs. Ray was the only Marshall play to record a multi-hit game, as he was 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
On the mound, Murphy earned the no decision by pitching five innings with three strikeouts. He allowed six runs on seven hits. Sexton was lights out for the Herd in relief. He tossed four shutout innings and allowed only one hit. Sexton had five strikeouts.
Quotes by head coach Jeff Waggoner
On the team win…
“I’m glad to see our guys bounce back. We had a tough weekend, we didn’t play with the energy and as the team that we are yesterday. We talked about it before the series, we had to get to their bullpen. I thought we did that in the first two games we just didn’t put the swings on it that we needed to and make the routine plays that we need to make. Our starters did a good job of keeping us where we needed to be.”
On Sam Finfer…
“Sam has been having great at-bats all year if you look at his numbers. We moved him back in the lineup to protect Tyler (Ratliff), because Tyler wasn’t getting pitches. I think that will pay off. He’s battling an injury but hopefully tomorrow we can give him a little bit of rest for a really good West Virginia team on Tuesday.”
On the week ahead…
“We’ve talked about it, the next two weeks are going to be the hardest part of our schedule. With the travel of West Virginia, then Virginia Tech, then UAB on the road, then coming back only to go to Florida Atlantic the following week. We’re going to see what we are made of in the next two weeks.”
The Herd travels to Morgantown on Tuesday to face-off with in-state rival West Virginia at 6:30 p.m. The team returns to action the following night on Wednesday at Appalachian Power Park to play Virginia Tech, with first pitch set for 6 p.m.