Marshall Heads to Miami for Crucial MAC Confrontation
Marshall will attempt to take an important step in its quest for a Mid-American Conference tournament berth when the Thundering Herd visits division rival Miami this weekend for a four-game series at McKie Field at Hayden Park. The series begins with a 3 p.m. first pitch on Friday, followed by a Saturday doubleheader and Sunday?s finale, both beginning at 1 p.m.
Marshall (18-26-1, 8-12 MAC) currently stands in fifth place in the MAC?s East Division while the RedHawks (25-17-1, 12-4 MAC) are eight games over .500 in the conference, good enough for second place in the East.
Marshall has eight games remaining in conference play with which to make a charge for its first ever MAC tournament appearance. Miami locked up the final seed, number six, in 2002 with a 16-12 conference mark, a record Marshall hopes to equal with its remaining MAC schedule.
?We?d obviously like to sweep the rest of our MAC games,? Marshall head coach Dave Piepenbrink said, ?but, if we figure out a way to win six of the last eight, we can put ourselves in position to make the tournament.?
Marshall will host Akron May 9-11 in its final MAC series of 2002.
The RedHawks hold a 59-24 lifetime edge over the Thundering Herd, but lost the last meeting versus Marshall in a 6-5 decision at University Heights last season. The two ballclubs split the 2002 season series 2-2.
Miami took three of four games from Northern Illinois in its last series and won 11 of its last 14 games prior to that.
The Herd is coming off of its first four-game MAC series victory, and first ever versus Bowling Green, last weekend when Marshall utilized excellent pitching and hitting to keep its post-season hopes alive.
Grant Harper (Grayson, Ky.) pitched a complete-game shutout, the first of his career, last Friday at BGSU. The junior right-hander will take on reigning MAC East Pitcher of the Week Sam Shorts in the series-opener on Friday. Shorts (4-2) recorded his first career shutout in a 2-0 extra-inning win over NIU. The freshman retired 20 of his last 21 batters he faced.
Corie O?Bryan (Frederick, Md.) earned MAC East Player of the Week honors after hitting .529 (9-for-17) in five games last week. The Herd third baseman drove in nine runs with four runs scored, three doubles and one home run, including smacking two game-winning RBIs against Bowling Green last weekend.
Piepenbrink, who is 7-13 lifetime against Miami, picked up his 100th career victory on Sunday at BGSU, launching him into second place on the all-time coaching victories list at Marshall.
Herd fans can follow all the action on MURedHawks.com via internet game tracker.
Probable Weekend Pitching Rotation
Game 1 ?? Grant Harper (3-7) vs. Sam Shorts (4-2)
Game 2 ?? Scott Henning (1-3) vs. Matt Long (1-3)
Game 3 ?? Fritz Conrad (2-3) vs. Graham Taylor (4-2)
Game 4 ?? Chris Koutsavlis (4-2) vs. Jason Friedman (4-0)