Herd Knocks Off No. 13 UCF 9-6 on Senior Day
Leon, Stafford homers help Marshall even the three-game series
May 12, 2012
The victory marked the first time the Thundering Herd (16-33, 4-16 C-USA) defeated a nationally ranked opponent since May 8, 2010, when Marshall held on to beat No. 25 Rice 4-3 at Appalachian Power Park.
Although the win came on Senior Day, it was freshman Sergio Leon who supplied a career day, going 4-for-4 with three singles, a home run, three RBIs, and two runs scored. Leon’s three-run shot to left field in the fourth inning was the first of his career and put Marshall into the lead for good.
Sophomore starter Aaron Blair (2-7) took the win after settling down from a shaky start. The right-hander gave up a home run from Ronnie Richardson to lead off the game, then promptly conceded one more run on another two hits as UCF took a 2-0 lead midway through the first.
The Herd answered with a run in the bottom half, though, and Blair would settle in and limit the 13th-ranked Knights’ high-caliber offense to just two hits over the next five innings. In all, the Las Vegas, Nev. native threw six innings and gave up three runs on five hits and three walks while striking out three. Such was enough for the victory as the Herd gave Blair some well-deserved run support.
After Leon’s home run put Marshall on top 4-2, UCF scored once in the fifth by way of a lead-off single, a walk, a sacrifice, and an RBI-groundout from Hicks.
Hicks provided two RBIs for the Knights (39-12, 14-6 C-USA), who dropped only their third road contest of the season.
Stafford added to Marshall’s 4-3 lead in the sixth when he sent a 1-1 pitch over the fence in left to make it 7-3. The home run was the junior’s 10th of his career and team-leading fifth of the season.
Again in the eighth, Marshall rattled another two runs out of the UCF pitching staff that entered the series with an earned run average of 2.86. Dundon recorded the first RBI of the inning when his slow-rolling single through the right side scored Ballou on a hit-and-run from first. Dundon came around to score later in the inning on Eric Escobedo’s base hit in the same direction.
The Herd’s insurance runs proved to be necessary as UCF’s fight did not go away in the ninth. Back-to-back singles followed by Marshall’s only error of the game loaded the bases, but Marshall relieved the tension with a textbook 4-6-3 double play.
Richardson homered again with two out, but reliever Joe Church was able to retire the side on an easy ground ball to second.
Church pitched all three relief innings for the Herd and took the save, his first of the season. The junior gave up three runs on four hits and struck out one.
Behind Leon’s 4-for-4 outing, fellow freshmen Dundon (2-for-5) and Escobedo (2-for-4) also recorded multiple hits.
Senior Eric Semeniuk was 1-for-4 in the victory, doubling down the left field line in the eighth.
With the series now even at a game apiece, Marshall and UCF will meet Sunday morning at 10 a.m. to decide the series.