Herd Sweeps Doubleheader Over Akron, Thanks to Pair of Walk-Off Home Runs

March 8, 2006

HUNTINGTON - First, it was Samantha Rodriguez. Then, it was Rachel Folden. The sophomore bombers each hit a two-run, walk-off home run to lead the Marshall Thundering Herd to a doubleheader sweep of the Akron Zips Wednesday.

Senior Veronica Ralston (Tucson, Ariz./Catalina Foothills) earned a pair of victories (7-5) for the Herd (11-9). Ralston fanned 10 batters in nine innings.

Rodriguez finished the day with four hits (4-for-7) and two RBI. Amanda Williams (Powder Springs, Ga./Harrison) and Leigh Wintter (Acworth, Ga./North Cobb) added three hits each.

"I am proud of the ay we fought back in both games," Marshall head coach Shonda Stanton said. "We just need to learn how to finish off an inning."

The doubleheader sweep extended Marshall's winning streak to a season-long four games heading into this weekend's Conference USA opener at Southern Miss. With the pair of losses, Akron drops to 6-7 overall.

"This weekend's series at Southern Miss is what it's all about. We are extremely confident coming off a four-game winning streak.

"We are starting to come together and once we put all three facets of the game together, we will be unstoppable."

Game 1 (Marshall 8, Akron 7 - 8 innings)

Game 1 Box Score

Trailing 7-6 in the bottom of the eighth, Rodriguez's two-run, walk-off home run to left-center field lifted the Herd to an 8-7 victory in game one.

Ralston earned the win in relief, surrendering two runs on two hits in two innings. Amanda Luers (Dover, Ohio/Dover) pitched 2 2/3 innings of strong relief, allowing just two base runners.

Megan MacKenzie (3-6) suffered the loss for the Zips, allowing four runs on three hits in three innings. Starter Julie Boyes allowed four Herd runs on five hits in four innings.

The Herd took an early 2-0 lead in the second inning. With one runner on and two out, Sara Spenia (Las Vegas, Nev./Durango) struck out swinging, but reached base on a wild pitch. The throw, however, beat Spenia to the bag, but a nonchalant Deanna McCauley was late tagging the base. Wintter scored on the wild pitch for the Herd's first runner of the inning. Spenia later scored on a throwing error by MacKenzie.

Akron evened the score at 2-2 in the third on Cali Stratton's two-RBI double to center field. The Zips added two more runs in the ensuing fourth inning, taking a 4-2 lead. Jaclyn Spirtos and Amy Pedro each hit solo home runs to give the visitors a two-run cushion.

However, the two-run lead would vanish in the bottom half of the fourth. Spenia's RBI single up the middle plated Joscelyn Bitner (Virginia Beach, Va./Princess Anne) and Deanna Tourville (Rescue, Calif./Ponderosa), knotting the game at four runs apiece.

Akron regained a one-run lead in the fifth, 5-4, on its third home run of the game. Sara Zilles led off the inning with solo homer to left field.

The Herd used another two-run inning to regain the lead, 6-5, in the fifth. Amanda Williams scored on a McCauley error and Folden later scored on Tourville's RBI double to center field.



After a scoreless sixth inning, Akron forced the game into extra innings. Stratton's RBI single through the left side plated Lisa McLean for the game's equalizer.

With the international tiebreaker in effect, the Zips scored on a Paige Smith sacrifice fly to center field, taking a 7-6 advantage in the top of the eighth inning.

But, in the end, Rodriguez hit her second walk-off home run of the season, lifting the Herd to the one-run victory.

Rodriguez went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI. Spenia added two RBI, while Tourville accounted for the Herd's other RBI.

Stratton led the Zips offensively, driving in three runs on 2-for-4 hitting.

Marshall 8, Akron 7 (Mar 08, 2006 at Huntington, W.Va.) (Game 1)
Akron............... 002 210 11 -  7 10  2      (6-6)
Marshall............ 020 220 02 -  8  8  0      (10-9)
Pitchers: Akron - J. Boyes; MacKenzie(5). Marshall - Abigail Harter; Amanda Luers(4); Veronica Ralston(7).
Win-Veronica Ralston(6-5)  Loss-MacKenzie(3-5)  T-2:35  A-175

Game 2 (Marshall 6, Akron 5)

Game 2 Box Score

Unlike game one, the Thundering Herd fell behind early, but overcame a three-run deficit to take a 6-5 win in the nightcap.

Ralston earned her second victory of the day, striking out a career-high eight batters in seven innings. Ralston allowed five runs on four hits, while walking three.

MacKenzie was dealt her second loss of the day, surrendering six runs (five earned) on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. MacKenzie struck out six batters in the second game.

Akron struck first, taking a 3-0 lead in the opening inning. MacKenzie's two-RBI double plated Stratton and Zilles. MacKenzie advanced to third on the play and allowed to score after a throwing error by Jessica Williams (Powder Springs, Ga./Harrison) landed in the Akron dugout.

The Herd crept to within one run, 3-2, in the bottom of the second. An RBI double by Leigh Wintter allowed Noelle Adams (Wheeling, W.Va./The Linsly School) to score the Herd's first run of game two. Wintter later scored on a wild pitch, cutting the Akron lead to one run.

Marshall took the lead in the ensuing inning. Folden singled up the middle, scoring Amanda Williams to tie the game at 3-3. Folden later scored on a fielding error by Jamie Stanclift, giving the Herd a 4-3 lead.

Akron, however, regained the lead in the fifth inning, taking a 5-4 advantage. McLean's two-RBI triple scored Carrese Moody and Jennifer Stottlemyer to give the Zips the one-run lead.

Marshall repeated game one's dramatic ending in the seventh. Amanda Williams led off with a double to left-center field. Sister Jessica Williams' sacrifice bunt allowed Amanda to move to third. That set the stage for Folden, whose two-run, walk-off home run to left field tied her single-season total from a year ago.

Folden finished the second game 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBI. Wintter went 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Amanda Williams went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.

McLean and MacKenzie each drove in two runs for the Zips in the second half of the double-dip.

Marshall 6, Akron 5 (Mar 08, 2006 at Huntington, W.Va.) (Game 2)
Akron............... 300 020 0 -  5  4  2      (6-7)
Marshall............ 022 000 2 -  6  8  2      (11-9)
Pitchers: Akron - MacKenzie. Marshall - Veronica Ralston.
Win-Veronica Ralston(7-5)  Loss-MacKenzie(3-6)  T-1:54  A-189

The Marshall Thundering Herd travels to Hattiesburg, Miss., to open its inaugural season in Conference USA at Southern Miss. A 2 p.m. (EST) doubleheader is slated for Saturday, following a single game at 1 p.m. (EST) Sunday.