May 1, 2009
ORLANDO, Fla. - Marshall received a pair of two-run singles from Kenny Socorro and Nate Lape to spark a five-run eighth inning rally and help lift the Thundering Herd to a sensational 10-8 come-from-behind victory over UCF in Friday night's Conference USA baseball game at Jay Bergman Field.
With the win, Marshall improves to 18-26 on the season, 7-12 in C-USA action, while UCF falls to 16-28 overall, 5-11 in league play.
Trailing 7-5, freshman designated hitter Thor Meeks led off the Marshall eighth with a walk before Ben Jurevicius entered as a pinch-runner. Senior second baseman Brandon Casamassima followed that with a single through the right side, before a groundout by senior right fielder Adam Yeager moved the runners into scoring position. Socorro then punched a two-run single up the middle, bringing Jurevicius and Casamassima home with the tying runs. Junior third baseman Josh Valle then singled up the middle and sophomore first baseman Victor Gomez earned a free pass to load the bases with two outs for Lape who smacked a two-run base hit up the middle, giving Marshall a 9-7 edge. Red-shirt freshman left fielder Rhett Stafford then reached on a throwing error, bringing Gomez home with the Herd's fifth run of the frame before a groundout ended the rally.
Herd junior hurler Austin Coan then entered in place of sophomore reliever Justin Moore and fired a strikeout and forced a groundout to quickly retire the first two batters. A pair of singles by Beau Taylor and Kiko Vazquez gave UCF two on, before a balk moved the runners into scoring position. Coan then fired his second strikeout of the frame to get out of the jam unscathed.
In the top of the ninth, Casamassima poked a one-out single through the right side and Yeager cranked a double to left center to place two on in scoring position before a groundout and a strikeout ended the frame.
Looking to maintain the three run lead, Coan used a line out, and a groundout to retire the first two batters before back-to-back singles gave UCF a pair of base runners. Chadd Hartman then tallied an RBI single, cutting the Knights' deficit to two at 10-8 before Coan tossed a strikeout to seal the victory.
Moore earned his first decision of the season and moves to 1-0 while Coan earned his sixth save of 2009. Moore was solid on the hill holding UCF off the board in two innings of work.
DJ Hicks suffered the loss for the Knights and moves to 3-4 on the season.
Marshall wasted little time getting started as senior Yeager laced a first-pitch double into right field to start off the Herd first frame. A sacrifice bunt by Socorro moved Yeager to third before an RBI groundout by junior third baseman Valle, making the score 1-0. From there, UCF starter Caleb Graham forced a groundout to end the stanza.
In the top of the second, Stafford lined his fifth home run of the season over the wall in left field, lifting the Marshall lead to 2-0. Meeks then drew a free pass and sophomore catcher Kevin Shackelford placed a bloop-single into left field, giving the Herd two runners on. From there, Graham retrieved a liner hit right back up the middle, tossed to the shortstop covering second who then threw on to first to complete a 1-6-3 double play to end the frame, keeping the score at 2-0.
UCF crossed the plate in the bottom of the second when Vazquez reached on an infield error with one out, and then raced to third on a double smoked down the line by Chris Duffy, giving the Knights two runners in scoring position. A groundout brought Vazquez home with UCF's first run of the contest and sent Duffy to third, but Herd starter Dan Straily was able to get out of the jam as a fly out ended the inning with the score set at 2-1.
A two-out rally in the top of the third put Marshall runners on the corners when Valle reached on an error and then moved to third on a single to left center by Gomez. However, both runners were left stranded as a groundout ended the scoring threat.
The Knights went back to work in the bottom of the third frame when Colin Arnold and Eric Kallstrom earned back-to-back walks to lead off the inning. From there, a fly out gave Marshall one away in the inning before Brandon Romans placed a double into shallow left field, scoring Arnold and sending Kallstrom to third. A groundout drove Kallstrom home and sent Romans ahead 90 feet before Vazquez was hit by a pitch to give the Knights runners on the corners. From there, Straily used a groundout to end the stanza but UCF claimed a 3-2 lead heading to the fourth.
With one down in the top of the fourth frame, Meeks tagged a 2-2 pitch that went sailing over the wall in left field for his ninth long ball of the season, knotting the contest at 3-3. From there, Graham issued a pair of strikeouts to close out the inning.
UCF regained the lead in the home half of the fourth frame when Josh Siebenaler and Arnold notched back-to-back one-out base hits before an RBI single by Kallstrom through the right side allowed Siebenaler to plate the Knights' fourth run of the game, giving UCF runners on the corners. A walk to Shane Brown loaded the bases but a 6-3 double play executed perfectly by Socorro kept the Knights from applying further damage.
The Knights struck again in the bottom of the fifth when Taylor singled and then moved to third on a one-out base knock by Duffy, giving UCF runners on the corners. From there, DJ Hicks launched a three-run homer over the wall in right field, extending the Knight's lead to 7-3. A groundout and an infield pop out ended the stanza.
UCF jammed the bases with two outs in the bottom of the sixth frame thanks to a hit, a walk and a hit batter, but Valle made a diving stop on a ball hit in the gap and fired to second to get the force out and retire the side before the Knights could add to their lead.
In the top of the seventh inning, Marshall placed two on when Shackelford and Yeager picked up singles, chasing Graham from the game in favor of Cory Weech with one out. From there, Yeager was out at second on a fielder's choice by Socorro, sending Shackelford to third. Valle then drew a bases loading walk before Gomez delivered a two-run single to left field, bringing the Herd to within two at 7-5. Lape was then hit by a pitch to reload the bases, chasing Weech from the contest for Hicks who fired a strikeout to strand all three runners.
After retiring the first two batters to start the UCF seventh, Arnold legged out a triple hit down the left field line but Moore, who entered to start the sixth inning, induced an inning ending fly out to center.
Yeager drilled three hits in the game, including two two-baggers, while Gomez, Shackelford and Casamassima collected two hits apiece. Socorro, Gomez and Lape each drove in two runs in the winning effort.
Marshall and UCF will play the second game of the three game series Saturday, May 2 with first-pitch slated for 4:00 p.m. ET at Jay Bergman Field.