April 29, 2011
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Isaac Ballou and Kenny Socorro each roped three hits, Gray Stafford and Victor Gomez launched homers and Aaron Blair pitched four scoreless innings out of the bullpen as the Marshall University used a total team effort to defeat Memphis, 8-5, on Friday night at FedExPark in Conference USA baseball action.
Blair (1-3) worked the fourth through the eighth inning to pick up his first collegiate victory and snap a three-game losing streak for the Thundering Herd. The righty allowed just two singles and struck out five battes without issuing a free pass.
The Stafford brothers combine for four hits, two doubles, one homer, two runs scored and four RBI as MU collected 13 base knocks as a team.
The game appeared to get off to an opportunistic start for the Marshall (16-23, 3-10 C-USA) against Memphis (24-18, 7-6) ace Dan Langfield in the top of first. Ballou and Socorro strung together consecutive one-out singles. Langfield fired his second strikeout of the inning before V.Gomez walked to load the bases. The righty escaped the stanza with another strikeout sending the teams to the dugouts.
The Tigers’ righty did not fare as well in the second, as the bottom of the MU lineup stirred the pot. Thor Meeks and G.Stafford smacked back-to-back ringing doubles to left-centerfield to account for the first run of the evening. G.Stafford moved to third on a wild pitch behind the back of Victor Ramos. Later in the at bat, Ramos put down a safety-squeeze bunt to bring home the second run.
U of M answered with two runs of its own in the bottom half of inning number two, when Drew Martinez lined a RBI double and Jacob Wilson drew a bases loaded free pass, both with two outs, to tie the score.
A Robby Graham two-run blast in the third gave the Tigers its first advantage in the third.
In the top half of the fifth, G.Stafford hit a lined solo shot out to left-center over the 360-foot sign for his third homer of the season and second in as many games, putting the Herd within a run at 4-3.
Aaron Blair replaced MU starter Shane Farrell in the fifth, as the tall righty labored through the first four frames at the mound. He finished with four strikeouts and three walks, while giving up four earned runs off seven hits.
V.Gomez liked the first pitch he saw from Langfield in the sixth, as he smoked a towering deep fly to center, his third of the season and 49th of his career to bring the score square at four a piece.
For the third stanza in a row, MU notched a run on the scoreboard, thanks to a RBI base hit from Rhett Stafford out of the cleanup slot in the lineup. Ballou, who scored the go-ahead run, hit his third single of the game to start things off. He moved into scoring position thanks to a two-strike sac bunt from Socorro, in front of R.Stafford bringing home speedy centerfielder off reliever Tyler Farley (1-1).
The Herd added some insurance runs in the top of the ninth with a three-run spurt to take an 8-4 lead into the last of the ninth. Ramos singled and Ballou walked in front of Socorro who socked a base hit to center that was misplayed. On the hit Ramos easily scored, but the miscue gave Ballou the chance to burn around the bases with the seventh run. R.Stafford laced a run scoring double to left to round out the scoring for Marshall.
Memphis decided to not go down quietly in its half of the frame scoring a run and bring the tying run to the plate, but Ian Kadish recorded a strikeout for the 27th and final out of the game.
The two teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 3 p.m. ET.