Herd Steals Series from First-Place Middle Tennessee

Special to HNN Provided by Herd Zone

BECKLEY, W.Va. – In a crazy Sunday setup, Marshall baseball (15-27,  8-13 C-USA) picked up its third consecutive series win, taking two of three games from first-place Middle Tennessee (24-19, 15-6 C-USA) after splitting a Sunday twinbill.

 

It is only the second series loss the Blue Raiders have suffered, after falling two games to one to then-No. 14 Rice.

 

After beginning the series in Charleston, W.Va., on Friday at Appalachian Power Park, weather forced a time and location change for the remaining two contests, moving the series to Epling Stadium in Beckley and forcing two seven-inning games instead of nine.

 

Sunday, an incredibly foggy morning forced a delayed start, and the fog remained until midway through the first game before permanently lifting.

 

Marshall dropped the first game 2-1 after a seventh inning rally fell short, but picked up its first shutout of the year with a 2-0 victory in the nightcap, led by a long ball from freshman Tyler Ratliff (Alexandria, Va.) and an impressive outing from starter Michael Taylor (St. Albans, W.Va.).

 

Game 1: Middle Tennessee 2, Marshall 1

The Blue Raiders had three players turn in two hits apiece in the 2-1 victory, while six different members of the Herd collected hits.

 

MTSU broke the game open in the top of the third, scoring one run off a leadoff walk, two singles, and an RBI double play.

 

The Blue Raiders added a second run in the top of the fifth, after a ball hit deep into the heavy fog in right field resulted in a leadoff triple for shortstop Austin Bryant, who came home on a sacrifice fly.

 

The Herd cut the lead in half and looked to continue its threat in the bottom of the seventh.  Senior Josh King (Troup, Ga.) turned in a pinch-hit leadoff single,  and Ratliff followed up with a single to right field. Catcher Matt Reed (Purcellville, Va.) was hit-by-pitch to load the bases with no outs. After a strikeout narrowed the MU chances, sophomore Corey Bird (Pinch, W.Va.) grounded out but got King home for the lone run.

 

Reliever Clint Wilson (Austin, Texas) continued to impress from the bullpen, tossing 1.2 scoreless innings with one hit and two strikeouts.

 

Game 2: Marshall 2, Middle Tennessee 0

Taylor worked 6.1 innings of scoreless baseball, fanning seven and scattering five hits with one walk. Senior Matt Margaritonda (Freehold, N.J.) took over with one out and one runner on to earn his team-leading fourth save of the season.

 

Marshall got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth, when designated hitter King capitalized on a two-out three-base throwing error to get into scoring position. Classmate Sergio Leon (Miami) singled through the right side to bring King home and give the Herd the advantage.

 

The following inning, Ratliff added insurance with his leadoff, first-pitch bomb over the left field wall. The home run makes his third of the season (tying for second), and brings Marshall’s season total to 19.

 

MU was able to carry its lead for the remainder of the game thanks to fantastic fielding from the Herd defense. Middle threatened in the sixth, with runners on second and third and two outs. Leon knocked down a hard hit ball up the middle and was able to turn the play to save the shutout.

 

WAGGONER’S WORDS

Link to Coach Waggoner's post-game interview

Tyler Ratliff, Fr., Third Baseman

“Our offense had been a little slower than in recent games, but with the way we were playing defense and how we were pitching, I knew if we were able to get two or three runs across we could win the game. Their pitcher threw me a fastball that was up and in, and I just turned on it.”

Michael Taylor, Jr., Starting Pitcher

“I knew how important that second game was, and I knew that I had a great defense behind me. That’s what kept me in the zone. With the way they’ve  been playing, it gives us pitchers a lot of confidence to go right after batters. It’s easy to throw strikes when I know I’ve got that support system behind me, and we were able to find a way to win and that’s what matters at this point in the season.”

Matt Margaritonda, Sr., Closer

“Coming into that situation, I just tried to throw strikes, let my defense do its job, and trust my catcher [Matt] Reed back there. It didn’t really feel like a pressure situation with that in mind.”

 

UP NEXT

Marshall will finish its series with in-state foe West Virginia on Tuesday, when the Herd hosts the Mountaineers at Power Park at 6 p.m.

Comments powered by Disqus