Total Team Effort Propels Herd Past Cougars
Game three starts Sunday at 12 p.m. ET and will decide the series
April 22, 2012
HOUSTON -- In another nail-biting finish, the Marshall baseball team used a total team effort to slip past Houston 4-3 in game two of a Conference USA series Saturday at Cougar Field.
The victory improved Marshall to 14-24 (2-9 C-USA) and gave the Thundering Herd its first win since crushing Coppin State in a midweek doubleheader 11 days ago. It also evened the series at a game apiece meaning that Sunday’s finale will decide the series.
Houston dropped to 13-23-1 (2-8-1 C-USA).
The contest saw numerous members of the Herd step up in clutch situations, most notably Gray Stafford, whose ninth-inning leadoff single turned into the game-winning run when he capitalized on two miscues by the Houston defense.
Jesse Fernandez’s performance from the pen was also nothing short of sensational, and juniors Alfredo Brito and Isaac Ballou’s runs, RBIs, and multiple hits proved vital as the Herd nearly needed extra innings for the second straight night.
Brito put Marshall on the board in the fourth inning when he sent a solo home run off the video board in right-center field. It was his fourth of the season and tied Stafford for the team lead.
The Cougars responded though with three runs in their half to steal the Herd’s short-lived lead and go ahead 3-1.
Facing the two-run deficit, it was Brito again in the sixth, doubling in Ballou to cut the lead in half. Ballou led the inning off with a single through the right side and was moved to third by Sergio Leon’s sacrifice and Nathan Gomez’s groundout.
Houston threatened in the eighth by stringing two hits and a walk together with two out to load the bases against Joe Church. Marshall closer Jesse Fernandez was brought in relief of Church to close out the final out of the eighth and got Cougar leadoff hitter Landon Appling on strikes. It was one of Fernandez’s two strikeouts in the relief effort, both of which he timed extremely well.
Stafford led the ninth inning off with a single to right field and raced all the way to third when right-fielder Jonathan Davis misjudged his path to the ball. That would be one of two crucial mistakes by Houston as reliever Mo Wiley’s wild pitch allowed Stafford to score the eventual winning run seconds later.
Fernandez (1-0) faced trouble in the bottom of the ninth as the Cougars’ last gasp included a two-out single and a stolen base to put the tying run in scoring position. With a full count, Fernandez got first baseman Codey Morehouse looking with a pitch that caught the outside corner of the plate to end the game.
Marshall starting pitcher Mike Mason received no decision after tossing six innings, allowing three runs (all earned) on six hits and four walks, and striking out two.
Church allowed three hits and a walk in 1.2 innings. He struck out one.
Fernandez pitched the remaining 1.1 innings, struck out two, and gave up only one hit.
Ballou, Brito, and Stafford were all 2-for-4 in the contest. Semeniuk and Dundon had the Herd’s other hits.