May 27, 2010
HOUSTON - Kenny Socorro and Josh Valle each launched homers, but Michael Goodnight held the No. 4 Marshall University baseball team hitless into the sixth, as the No. 5 University of Houston knocked off the Thundering Herd, 11-7, on the Wednesday night at the Conference USA tournament on the diamond of Cougar Field.
After falling behind the visiting Cougars (25-30) 11-0 entering the top of the sixth, MU (26-30) scored seven unanswered runs over the next three innings, but the surge was too little too late, dropping the first game of the conference tournament.
The Herd will look to rebound by playing a pod cross-over game against No. 3 Memphis at 4 p.m. EST on Thursday. GameTracker and live streaming will be available at HerdZone.com along with radio broadcast from Steve Cotton and Ben Warnick on 930AM WRVC.
UH scored two runs in each of the first two stanzas and added a four-spot in the third to hold an 8-0 advantage, chasing Herd starter Arik Sikula (6-5). The MU ace was roughed up for six runs (five earned) on six hits with three strikeouts as the junior worked into the third frame, but was unable to retire a batter.
The Cougars tacked on another run in the fourth and two more in the fifth as the lead expanded to 11-0. M.P. Cokinos just missed a homer in fifth, roping a two-run triple to highlight the scoring. Cokinos finished the night 3-for-4 with four RBI.
Entering the bottom of the sixth, the Herd lineup had been silenced by the right arm of Michael Goodnight. The sophomore hurler kept the MU batters without a hit until Rhett Stafford sneaked a single back up the box for the first base knock of the game. Not only was the no-hit bid eliminated, the shutout opportunity for the Cougars was washed away when the next batter, Kenny Socorro, connected for a two-run bomb to leftfield, his first of the season.
Valle led off the seventh with his third blast of the season, but it was all the Herd offense could muster as reliever Chase Dempsay recorded the final two outs in the stanza in place of Goodnight.
Goodnight finished his outing logging 6.1 innings, fanning seven, while allowing three earned runs on four hits to bring his season record to an even 7-7.
Trailing 11-3, MU made the contest interesting in the eighth by scoring four times, courtesy of a bases clearing double by Valle and a run scoring single from Nathan Gomez. UH reliever Mo Wiley entered with two down and retired Stafford to keep the UH lead intact, 11-7.
Wiley allowed a single to Socorro to start the ninth, but sent the next three batters down in order to secure the Cougars victory.
Valle led the offense for the Herd, posting a 2-for-4 game with a double, homer and four RBI. Socorro smashed a homer in his 2-for-4 night at the plate, while James Lavinskas added a pair of base hits.
A quartet of relievers out of the Herd bullpen did an outstanding job of working out of jams, giving the Herd an opportunity to make the game manageable. Kevin Shackelford, Ben Frith, Kyle Blank and Tyler Gatrell combined to fire 4.1 scoreless innings, giving up just three hits, while striking out two.