Blair’s Gem Leads Herd Past WVU 8-0

Special to HuntingtonNews.Net

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Marshall starting pitcher Aaron Blair struck out 11 and kept West Virginia hitless over six innings, and Marshall’s baseball team shut out the Mountaineers 8-0 Tuesday at Appalachian Power Park.

The victory came in the first meeting between the rival schools in over five years and, in front of the largest crowd of the season (1,664), saw Marshall improve to 9-10.  It also marked the second two-hitter and fourth shutout of the season for MU’s pitching staff.  West Virginia’s record dropped to 8-12. 

“[Blair] had a great game,” said Marshall head coach Jeff Waggoner in a postgame interview.  “He really set the tone early.  You know, he struggled. He told me he was rushing his mechanics and obviously with all the scouts here and the West Virginia game. He was just a little bit too jumpy.” 

Blair (3-1) loaded the bases via two walks and a bit batter to open the game but struck out the side to avoid damage in the top of the first.  Beyond that, the junior right-hander was never in any real trouble, allowing only one baserunner past first through the next five innings and keeping hitless a WVU team that entered the game with a .310 average.

Of Blair’s 11 punchouts (which were two shy of his career high), four came looking.

Marshall reliever Josh King picked up the save (1) in a three-inning relief role where he struck out six, matching a career high.  WVU recorded its first hit off the junior in the eighth with a comebacker up the middle that glanced off King’s glove toward the charging second baseman Aaron Bossi whose throw to first was late.

By the time West Virginia found its first hit, Marshall had put the game away, scoring once in the first, twice in the second, three times in the third, and twice more in the fifth.

The Mountaineers doubled to lead off the top of the ninth, but King punched out the next three to end the game.

Marshall got things going in the bottom of the first when back-to-back hits by Isaac Ballou and Andrew Dundon were followed by a WVU throwing error that plated Ballou for the early lead.

An inning later, Sergio Leon’s sacrifice fly scored one, and another WVU throwing error scored another.

In the third, the Thundering Herd put the game well out of reach when Eric Escobedo’s RBI double and Chase Vogelbach’s two-RBI single made the score 6-0.

West Virginia starting pitcher Zach Bargeron (0-1) lasted only one inning and took the loss.  The southpaw allowed four hits and three runs (one earned) before being chased three batters into the second.

Marshall used a total team effort on offense to produce the eight runs and come away victorious.  Eight members of the Herd accounted for the Herd’s nine hits, with Vogelbach’s 2-for-3 performance leading the way.  Vogelbach drove in two runs and scored one. 

Nathan Gomez and Gray Stafford each singled once and scored twice in the victory.

WVU centerfielder and leadoff man Bobby Boyd broke up Marshall’s no-hitter in the eighth and finished the game 1-for-3.  Second baseman Billy Fleming was also 1-for-3, doubling in the ninth.

Marshall will return to the road Friday through Sunday for a four-game series against Radford in Radford, Va.  Marshall and West Virginia will collide twice more this season: in Morgantown on April 2 and in Beckley on May 14.

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