Marshall Drops First MAC Game of 2003 to Western Michigan, 9-4
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Western Michigan opened up a 7-0 lead en route to a 9-4 victory at the expense of Marshall in both team’s Mid-American Conference opener at University Heights on Friday.
The Broncos (6-10, 1-0 MAC) took advantage of what Marshall head coach Dave Piepenbrink called “nonaggressive defense” in his outfield to drop in several run scoring base hits that plagued the Thundering Herd (8-13-1, 0-1 MAC) all afternoon.
Western Michigan used an Adam Rosales bases loaded double in the sixth inning to score three runs and take a commanding 7-0 lead. Herd outfielder Josh McConnell (Phenix City, Ala.) ran in on the Rosales line drive, but had to retreat backward to play the ball off of the center field wall after misjudging the hard shot.
Several other defensive miscues, not errors, had the Marshall skipper concerned.
“For us to win MAC games, we have to make those plays and be more aggressive,” Piepenbrink said. “They (Western Michigan) made the plays and we didn’t.”
Marshall starter Grant Harper (Grayson, Ky.) pitched 5.2 innings and gave up seven runs on 10 hits to take the loss. Harper’s record fell to 2-4.
“Harper pitched well today,” Piepenbrink said, “but the bottom line was that we should’ve held them to less runs with better defense.”
Western Michigan’s Pat Misch (2-1) earned the victory on the mound after 8.0 innings with eight hits and two earned runs. The senior struck out seven Marshall hitters to register his second victory in his last two starts.
The game started off with a bang for the Broncos as leadoff hitter Matt Bolton ripped a double to right center field. A Mark Abro sacrifice bunt sent Bolton to third base and he was batted in on another Western Michigan double, this one from Tom Fabrizio. The Thundering Herd made solid defensive plays the rest of the inning to escape with only one run allowed.
Fabrizio went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs in the contest.
WMU tallied another run in the second inning to take a 2-0 lead. Joe Zacharzewski hit a two-out double and was knocked in on a Royce Dickerson single to center field. Zacharzewski, hitting out of the eighth spot, was 3-for-4 on the afternoon with one RBI.
The Broncos continued to meticulously add runs, by posting one in each of the fourth and fifth innings.
The Herd finally scored its first run in the bottom of the sixth inning when Francois Larmore (Magnolia, N.J.) hit a RBI single through the right side to score Scott Henning (Wilmington, Del.) to make the score 7-1. Marshall had men on first and second base with no outs later in the inning, but left both men on base following two strikeouts and a groundout.
Henning was 3-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored, while Larmore, the only other player in the Herd lineup with more than one base hit, was 2-for-5 with two RBIs and one run scored.
Mike Koitsopoulos (Markham, Ont.) extended his team-high hitting streak to six games in the seventh inning and later scored from first base when Henning laced a double to left center field to close the gap at 7-2.
Larmore hit his MAC-leading ninth home run in the bottom of the eighth inning, a solo blast, to narrow the gap to 9-3.
Chris Fritz (Ashland, Ky.) entered the game in the ninth inning and sat the Broncos down in order, the first time a Marshall pitcher accomplished such a feat in the game. Fritz had off-season shoulder surgery and the one inning he pitched marked his first mound appearance of 2003.
Marshall and Western Michigan will play a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m. at University Heights. Western Michigan will send Brad Mumma (2-2) to the mound in game one and the Herd will go with freshman Chris Koutsavlis (Pittsburgh, Pa.) who boasts a 3-1 record. Keith Perez (1-1) versus Steve Ziroli (LaGrange, Ill.) is the matchup in game two. Ziroli is 2-0 in 2003.
NOTE: Saturday's doubleheader can be heard live on WRVC 930-AM with Steve Cotton and Ricky Hazel on the call.