March 30, 2009
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The Marshall University baseball team begins a seven-game road trip, starting with a pair of midweek non-conference tilts at Kentucky on Tuesday, March 31, and at Ohio State on Wednesday, April 1. Tuesday is slated for a 6:30 p.m. ET start, with first-pitch of Wednesday's contest scheduled for 2:05 p.m. ET.
Marshall (11-14 overall, 3-3 Conference USA) enters midweek action fresh off its impressive 6-2 victory over No. 19 East Carolina in this weekend's C-USA series finale at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston, W.Va. The victory was the Thundering Herd's first over a ranked opponent since the 2007 season when Marshall took a 12-11 decision over 28-th ranked Houston on April 27. The win was also the first over the Pirates under head coach Jeff Waggoner.
East Carolina posted a 7-6 victory in the first game of a doubleheader on Friday afternoon. The Pirates took a 7-5 lead to the ninth inning before sophomore first baseman Victor Gomez launched a home run that pulled the Herd to within one, but Marshall could not plate the tying run.
Friday's game two saw the teams play to a 1-1 tie heading into the bottom of the seventh before rain suspended action. The game was picked up on Sunday and saw the Pirates claim a 5-1 victory to take a 2-0 lead in the series. Gomez blasted his second homer of the series in the contest and right-handed starter Dan Straily pitched the first seven innings before rain shortened his outing. The junior gave up one run and scattered six hits and tied his career-best for strikeouts with eight en route to the no decision.
The Pirates took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning but never crossed the plate again as Marshall stormed back in the home half of the fourth, scoring five times, highlighted by a three-run blast off the bat of freshman designated hitter Thor Meeks. Marshall scored once more to stake a 6-2 lead before turning the game over to the bullpen.
Freshman southpaw Greg Williams
was superb on the mound, pitching the first five innings, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out four. Sophomore reliever Justin Moore
pitched the next two and a third and struck out two batters and gave up just one hit, before junior Tyler Gatrell
pitched the final 1.2 frames, striking out two Pirates.
After this weekend's action, Gomez moves into the team lead for hits with 33 and is the leader in RBIs with 23. The sophomore is also in a three-way deadlock for the top spot on the squad for home runs with six. Sophomore right fielder Ben Jurevicius continues to lead the team with a .341 batting average (31-for-91) and is 6-for-10 in stolen bases.
Senior centerfielder Nate Lape has been swinging a hot bat as of late, hitting safely in nine consecutive games. The slugger now has 25 hits in 91 at-bats (.275), including five doubles and six homers in addition to 21 runs driven in and seven stolen bases in nine attempts. Meeks has also provided some spark with his bat and now has a .274 average (20-for-73) with four doubles, six round-trippers and 17 RBIs.
Junior third baseman Josh Valle has pounded out 26 hits so far this season and has upped his batting average to .289, highlighted by six doubles and two homers, while also leading the squad in walks with 19.
The Marshall pitching staff is anchored by Straily, who is 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA. The junior has tossed 29 strikeouts in 31 innings of work (five appearances, all starts). Red-shirt senior lefty Andrew Blain has also been stellar on the bump, holding opposing batters to just a .185 batting average. He has a 2.42 ERA and is 1-1 on the season.
Kentucky enters midweek action with a 16-9 overall record and is 4-5 in the Southeastern Conference. Chris Bisson leads the Wildcats' offensive surge, hitting .394 with 39 hits in 99 at-bats with 27 runs scored, has legged out nine doubles, and driven in 27 runs, all of which are team-highs.
The Wildcats have a pair of pitchers with 4-1 records, Chris Rusin (3.21 ERA) is the team leader in strikeouts with 55, and James Paxton who has 49 strikeouts and a 5.62 ERA.
Kentucky leads the all-time series 28-12, including a 9-6 victory over the Herd in last season's meeting.
Ohio State, ranked 18th nationally, has won 11 of its last 13 games and is 20-4 on the season, 2-1 in the Big Ten heading into midweek action.
The Buckeyes own a 16-0 record against the Herd and posted a 8-1 win in last season's meeting in Columbus.
Marshall returns to C-USA action with a three-game set at Southern Miss, beginning April 3-5. Friday's contest is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET, with Saturday's start time set at 4:00 p.m. ET. The series finale first pitch will take place at 12:00 p.m. ET.