@HerdBaseball Completes Sweep of WKU in Shutout Win
Will Ray pitched seven shutout innings with seven strikeouts
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The Marshall baseball completed its first sweep of a Conference USA opponent this season on Sunday by shutting out the WKU Hilltoppers, 8-0, at the Kennedy Center Field.
The Thundering Herd improves to 24-23 (12-12 C-USA) and is tied with Rice for seventh place in the Conference USA standings. Starting pitcher Will Ray (3-2) dominated on the mound for the Herd. The junior pitched seven shutout innings and only allowed two hits. Ray had a career-high seven strikeouts. WKU falls to 14-35 (4-20 C-USA). The Hilltoppers’ starting pitcher Jeff Ciocco (0-4) earned the loss after allowing five runs through 3.1 innings.
“Will Ray came out and set the tempo,” head coach Jeff Waggoner said. “I just loved his tempo today. He really attacked hitters on both sides of the plate with his fastball. His off-speed was on too.”
It was a pitcher’s duel through the first three-and-a-half innings as the teams combined for just one hit.
The Marshall bats came alive in the bottom of the fourth as Cory Garrastazu led off with a single down the right field line. Tyler Ratliff followed with a single through the left side. Sam Finfer loaded the bases with a single to right field. Shane Hanon put the Herd on the board with a two RBI single to center field, scoring Garrastazu and Ratliff. Andrew Zban made it a three-run advantage for Marshall with a RBI ground out that scored Finfer. Tommy Lane continued his impressive weekend with a double down the left field line that scored Hanon. Lane later came around to score to make it a five-run lead on a Billy Sager RBI single.
The Thundering Herd tacked on a sixth run in the bottom of the fifth. Garrastazu led off with a single to center field and later stole second base. With a runner in scoring position, Finfer singled up the middle to score Garrastazu.
Marshall showed off its power in the sixth and seven innings with two solo homers. Sager hit his third home run of the season in the sixth to push the Herd’s lead to 7-0. Finfer knocked his team-leading 16th homer in the seventh. Finfer leads Conference USA in home runs.
“The hitters obviously had a good day,” Waggoner said. “They saw the ball well all weekend and put on some good swings. We had good team play all weekend and good focus and preparation.”
Six players combined for 10 hits. Finfer led the Herd by going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Sager finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored, while Garrastazu was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Ratliff, Hanon and Lane each had one hit.
Freshmen Jacob Bradley and Hunter Sexton made relief appearances. Bradley pitched one inning with a strikeout and allowed one hit. Sexton tossed a perfect inning with a strikeout. It was Sexton’s 21st appearance, tied for a team-high with Matt Reed.
Marshall closes its season series with the Ohio Bobcats on Tuesday at 6 p.m.