Herd Falls to East Carolina in Nail-biting Finale
ECU wins its fifth straight series
May 12, 2013
BECKLEY, W.Va. -- Despite out-hitting one of the most productive offenses in Conference USA, Marshall’s baseball team was beaten by East Carolina 4-3 in Sunday’s deciding finale at Linda K. Epling Stadium.
Marshall tallied nine hits while keeping ECU to its season low of four, but 10 walks issued by the Thundering Herd’s pitching staff doomed Marshall to 19-31 (6-15 C-USA). ECU, which won its fifth straight C-USA series, moved to third place in the league standings at 28-23 (12-9 C-USA).
East Carolina began the game hot, forcing Marshall starter Michael Taylor into an early exit after leading off the second with two doubles and a pair of walks. Taylor gave up three (earned) runs but received no decision as sophomore Matt Margaritonda threw six strong innings in his relief and kept ECU close until Eric Escobedo took Taylor off the hook in the fifth.
Escobedo, who notched his second game-tying RBI in as many games, singled home senior Nathan Gomez on the first pitch he saw. Gomez had reached on a would-be game-tying double off the top of the wall in right, but ECU’s relay home was in time to nab Isaac Ballou trying to score from first.
The fifth inning started off with Gray Stafford tripling off the wall in right field, then scoring on Ballou’s single to center to make it 3-2. Escobedo followed with his single which scored Gomez who had moved to third on the throw home which cut down Ballou.
Marshall was held scoreless for the remainder of the contest but managed to stay in the game as Margaritonda lasted his career-long six scoreless innings and threw a career-high six strikeouts. The righty conceded just two hits.
Without the aid of any hits, ECU took the lead in the ninth off reliever Josh King (1-3). Back-to-back walks to lead the inning off were followed by a double steal which put runners on second and third with no one out. Pirates shortstop Jack Reinheimer had the game-winning RBI on a sacrifice fly to right field.
Marshall escaped the ninth without any more damage and received a leadoff single from Ballou in the bottom half but ultimately could not answer ECU’s ninth-inning run.
Ballou finished 2-for-3 with two walks, an RBI, and a stolen base. Stafford was 2-for-4 with a triple, a walk, and two runs.
Marshall will return here on Tuesday for the third and final meeting with in-state rival West Virginia at 6 p.m. before hitting the road for Houston and the final C-USA series of the regular season against No. 17 Rice. Game times at Reckling Park are scheduled for 7:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., and 2 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Thursday’s opener will be televised on Fox College Sports.