May 22, 2008
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Sixth-seeded Marshall University received a complete-game, eight-strikeout effort from Steve Blevins, and Adam Yeager stole five bases to help lift the Thundering Herd to a 10-5 victory over number No. 3 and host Tulane University in Wednesday night's 2008 Entergy Conference USA Baseball Championship game at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
With the win, Marshall improves to 27-28-1 overall picking up its first win in a conference tournament game since the Herd beat Davidson 8-5 as a member of the Southern Conference in 1995. The win over Tulane also ties the program's single-season record for victories last achieved in 2004.
The Herd will now face second-seed Southern Miss (39-18) who defeated No. 7 UCF in opening round action. Marshall and the Golden Eagles will square off at 8:30 p.m. ET. Tulane, meanwhile, falls to 36-19-1 overall and will play UCF (31-26) in the 1:30 p.m. ET elimination game.
Trailing 10-3 in the bottom of the seventh, Tulane cut its deficit to 10-5 on an RBI single by Sam Honeck. A second run scored on the hit, as a fielding error allowed a second Green Wave baserunner to cross the dish.
From there, Blevins allowed just one hit as he held Tulane scoreless for the rest of the contest. Blevins improved to 9-3 on the season and is now tied with JR Watts as the only Marshall pitchers to win nine games in a single campaign. Tulane's Shooter Hunt suffered the loss and falls to 9-3 on the season.
"Great job by Steve Blevins," head coach Jeff Waggoner said of his pitcher. "Our guys played well. We beat a great team, a well-coached team. It was a great overall win for our program. We've given [Blevins] plenty of rest coming into this game, and that's huge when your starter can throw a complete game and you can save your bullpen."
Marshall drew first blood with a run in the top of the first inning. Yeager drew a leadoff four-pitch walk off Hunt. Yeager then advanced to second on a groundout before stealing his 39th bag of the season. Yeager came around to score on the same play as Green Wave third baseman Rob Segedin was unable to corral the throw down the line from catcher Jared Dyer. Hunt was able to strikeout the next two batters to avoid further trouble.
The Herd made some noise again in the second as Jeff Rowley drew the second consecutive leadoff walk before Tommy Johnson poked a potential double-play ball to shortstop, but Josh Prince let it bounce off his glove. Brandon Casamassima advanced the runners to scoring position before Hunt escaped the jam by hurling his third strikeout and forcing an inning-ending groundout to first.
Tulane got its offense going in the second when Sam Honeck drilled a one-out single down the right field line. Andrew Rodgers followed that with a single up the middle that sent Honeck to third. With runners on the corners, Blevins induced an infield popup and a groundout to keep the Wave off the board.
Yeager drew his second four-pitch walk to start the third stanza, and then stole his 40th base of the season, tying him with Chris Monaco for the single-season record. Monaco accomplished the feat in 2004. After Josh Valle earned a free-pass, Nate Lape pounded a single through the left side, allowing Yeager to come home with the Herd's second run of the game. Hunt then avoided further trouble by striking out the side, but Marshall took a 2-0 lead in the frame.
Marshall added to its lead when Casamassima tagged Hunt's first pitch of the fourth inning for his seventh home run of the season, an opposite field blast. Kenny Socorro followed that with a single to center field before Yeager reached safely for the third time on a fielder's choice to third. Yeager then broke the single-season record with his 41st swipe of the season. Valle then drove Yeager home with a well-placed single to left field. A groundout ended the inning, but Marshall posted a 4-0 lead.
The Green Wave crossed the plate in the home-half of the fourth when Honeck drew a one-out walk and later scored on a two-out, two-base throwing error by Casamassima, to cut the Tulane deficit to 4-1. Blevins dealt his fourth strikeout of the game to get out of the inning.
Blevins continued his stellar performance on the hill, as he used a 6-4-3 double-play to complete the first one-two-three inning of the game in the fifth inning.
Leading 4-1 in the sixth, Marshall extended its lead to 6-1 when Yeager ripped a one-out infield single to shortstop before advancing to second on a groundout. Lape then launched his 15th home run of the year over the fence in deep right center field. A fly out to right field ended the inning.
Tulane loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth with two outs before pinch-hitter Warren McFadden laced a two-run single to center field to cut the Wave deficit to 6-3. A bounding ball to short was cut down by Yeager who made a quick throw to first to get the out and retire the side before more damage could be done.
Hunt left the game after pitching six innings. He allowed six runs on six hits, struck out nine and issued five free passes.
Rowley led off the top of the seventh with his fourth home run, a solo shot over the wall in straight away right field off Tulane reliever Preston Claiborne. The last time Marshall hit three or more home runs in a game was in game one of a doubleheader against Valparaiso on March 12, when four Herd players went deep. Johnson followed that with a double to left field before Socorro drew a walk. Ben Jurevicius then drove Johnson home with a single to left field, before Yeager smacked his second hit of the game to center field, plating Socorro and Jurevicius. Yeager then stole second and third before attempting to steal home but the tag came just in time. Yeager's five bags broke the previous C-USA tournament single-game record of three to give Marshall a 10-3 lead.