May 24, 2008
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Sixth-seeded Marshall eliminated No. 3 Tulane when Jeff Rowley scored on a walk-off wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Thundering Herd to a thrilling 8-7 victory in Saturday afternoon's 2008 Entergy Conference USA Baseball Championship game at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
With the win, Marshall (28-29-1) has earned the right to play in an elimination contest against No. 2 Southern Miss will start approximately 7:00 p.m. ET. If Marshall wins, the Herd and Golden Eagles will square off Sunday morning with a start time to be determined. If Southern Miss wins, the Herd will be eliminated.
Saturday's victory over Tulane marks the most wins in single-season program history, and also marks the first time a Marshall team has won two postseason games since the 1990 season as a member of the Southern Conference.
Trailing 7-6, Marshall started its late-game dramatics as Josh Valle smacked a two-out single to center field to lead off the bottom of the eighth. Matt Helm, who entered to run for Valle, stole second before Lape placed a seeing-eye single into center field, scoring Helm and tying the game at seven runs apiece. Lape then stole his third base of the game before a strikeout ended the frame.
After Marshall used a double play to hold the Green Wave scoreless in the top of the ninth, Rowley led off the last of the ninth with a single to right field. A one-out single by Kurt Lipton to center field sent Rowley to third. Following a strikeout, Blake Sanders (who entered to run for Lipton) stole second placing two in scoring position for Ben Jurevicius. A 1-0 pitch went to the backstop allowing Rowley to race home with the winning-run. The last time Marshall won on a walk-off was on March 12 against Valparaiso.
Tulane led off the top half of the ninth inning on a single to right by Rob Segedin. Herd reliever Arik Sikula
, who entered in relief with two outs in the seventh, fanned the next batter before he helped execute a 1-6-3 double-play to end the stanza.
Sikula (2-3) earned the victory while Segedin (1-2) suffered the loss for the Green Wave.
"First of all, that was a great college baseball game," head coach Jeff Waggoner said following the Herd's second tournament victory over Tulane. "Two teams fought to the end, and unfortunately, someone had to lose. My hat is off to Tulane for the way they played. It was a great game. My best to whomever from our conference is in a Regional."
Marshall wasted no time, scoring a run in the bottom of the first. Nate Lape drilled a two-out pitch just past Tulane's Josh Prince. Lape then stole second and advanced to third on an overthrow by Green Wave catcher Jared Dyer. Victor Gomez then singled in the run, punching a 3-2 pitch through the middle of the infield. Rowley earned a walk, but the rally stalled there as Garrett registered his second strikeout of the inning.
Marshall extended its lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the second when Brandon Casamassima blasted his second home run of the tournament and second against Tulane in the tournament, for his eighth long ball of the season. Adam Yeager added an infield single in the frame and went to second on a wild pitch but was stranded there.
Blain cruised through the first 3.2 innings, allowing a pair of walks before giving up a single to center field by Dyer for Tulane's first base hit of the game. An infield fly out ended any chance of a rally in the frame.
The Green Wave got its offense going in the top of the fifth inning when a three-run home run by Anthony Scelfo and a solo shot by Seth Henry in the next at-bat, gave Tulane its first postseason lead against Marshall 4-2.
The Herd answered right back in the bottom half of the inning when Lape lifted a 3-2 delivery to left field for his 16th home run of the season. Yeager, who had doubled earlier in the stanza and went to third on a groundout, scored on the blast to knot the contest at 4 runs apiece. Gomez singled to through the left side and that knocked Garrett from the game in favor of Robby Broach. Garrett allowed four runs on seven hits. He walked two and struck out six in 4.1 innings of work. Rowley earned a walk, before a groundout to first base moved the runners up 90 feet with two outs. Kurt Lipton then laced a two-run single to straightaway center field to give the Herd a 6-4 lead.
Ian Kadish replaced Blain in the top of the sixth. Blain pitched five strong innings giving up four runs on four hits while striking out four batters. Kadish retired the first two batters before issuing a pair of walks, but a fly out to center field ended the threat.
Marshall received a leadoff walk from Ben Jurevicius to start the Herd sixth. He then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Yeager, and moved to third on a deep fly out to right field by Valle. Nick Pepitone entered in relief of Broach. Lape walked and then stole second to give the Herd a pair of runners in scoring position but a groundout to shortstop halted the scoring opportunity for the Herd in the inning.
Aja Barto singled to left to start the seventh. Kadish was replaced by reliever Ryan Kiel who struck out Scelfo for the first out of the inning. Marshall then brought in Andrew Hancock. Barto stole second and then came around on an RBI single by Henry through the left side to cut the Green Wave deficit to 6-5. A groundout to third base sent Henry to second before the Herd brought in Sikula who struck out the only batter he faced to end the inning.
Marshall made some noise in the bottom of the seventh when Rowley started the frame with a bunt single and then stole his second bag of the season. Pepitone was able to retire the next three batters in order to retire the side.
Tulane rallied in the top of the eighth after a leadoff walk and a pair of bunt singles loaded the bases with nobody out. Sikula dealt a pair of strikeouts before Scelfo ripped a two-run single to right center field to give the Green Wave a 7-6 lead before a fly out to right field ended the inning.