Marshall Takes Loss Despite Blair's Near No-Hitter


Nathan Gomez

Nathan Gomez

April 27, 2012

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sophomore right-hander Aaron Blair kept Southern Miss hitless for seven and two-thirds innings but took the loss as the Marshall baseball team was shutout 2-0 Friday at Appalachian Power Park. 

Through seven full innings, Blair limited the Golden Eagles to only one base runner, but Southern Miss surged into the lead in the top of the eighth when a lead-off error was followed by back-to-back two out singles. 

USM's Austin Roussel provided the game-winning hit with a pinch hit single down the first base line which scored two; neither run was earned. 

The top of the eighth inning began with a ground ball to the left side which saw Ashley Graeter become the Golden Eagle's second base runner of the game via a Gray Stafford fielding error.  USM bunted Graeter to second before Blair caught Blake Brown looking on an 0-2 pitch for the second out of the inning. 

The Golden Eagles used a pair of singles from the bottom of their order, though, to move into the late lead.  Travis Creel hit the first one down the left field line which Stafford dove to knock down, preventing a double and, more importantly, Graeter scoring from second, but Roussel would deliver the game-winner in the next at-bat with a ground ball down the right field line. 

Blair, who was perfect for the first four and two-thirds innings, went eight innings, allowed two hits and two walks while striking out eight in his fourth quality start of the season.  The eight-inning performance was the Las Vegas, Nev. native's longest outing of his career. 

Blair (1-7) issued a walk on a full count to USM's Isaac Rodriguez with two out in the fifth to disrupt his perfect game, then saw the infield single from Creel break up his no-hitter with two out in the eighth. 

Sophomore Ryan Hopkins came in relief of Blair to start the ninth.  He set the Golden Eagles down in order, striking out the side on only 11 pitches. 

Junior Nathan Gomez was 3-for-4 in the contest, claiming three of the Herd's five hits.  Marshall used him to threaten in the fourth and again in the eighth but was unable to come up with any runs. 

In the bottom of the fourth, Gomez led off with a single and was bunted to second, but Southern Miss starting pitcher Andrew Pierce would punch out both Stafford and Thor Meeks to end the inning.  Again in the eighth, Gomez singled Sergio Leon to third with two away, but Pierce would get Alfredo Brito on a deep fly ball to right. 

Leon and Stafford were both 1-for-4 in the loss. 

Andrew Pierce (6-2) matched Blair with eight full innings of his own, allowing no runs while scattering five hits to pick up the win.  He walked three and struck out seven. 

Bradley Roney threw a perfect inning in the ninth to claim his eighth save of the season. 

Saturday's game has been moved to 10 a.m. to avoid impending rain.