Herd bests Bulldogs
Early LA Tech grand slam doesn’t faze Marshall
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Four home runs and five solid innings of relief by Ryan Capuano propelled the Marshall University baseball team (16-18-1, 5-8 C-USA) to a 10-9 series-opening win over the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (23-11, 9-4 C-USA) on Friday afternoon at the Kennedy Center.
“I think being down four runs off the bat, and our guys staying in it mentally, coming back a little at a time, was big for us,” Herd baseball head coach Jeff Waggoner said after the win. “Capuano coming in, throwing five innings and giving us a chance to win was a huge performance by him.”
Bulldogs catcher Jorge Corona plated the first runs of the contest on a grand slam in the top of the first to give the visitors a 4-0 lead. However, Travis Sankovich led off the next half inning with a single. Two batters later and with Sankovich at second, Ryan Leitch launched a two-out blast to right center to cut the deficit in half, 4-2.
Herd starting pitcher Jeffrey Purnell settled in and hurled a 1-2-3 frame in the top of the second.
Walker Burchfield hit a homer for LA Tech to extend its lead to three runs, 5-2, in the top of the third.
Jordon Billups then drew a two-out free pass in the bottom of the frame. Luke Edwards then stepped up to the plate. The junior center fielder took the first pitch for a ball, but sent the second offering of the at bat over the left-field fence for a two-run dinger to have Marshall trailing by just one run, 5-4. The long ball was Edwards’ ninth of the season and marked the 44th consecutive game he has reached base safely.
Taylor Young added a run for the Bulldogs on a fielder’s choice in the top of the fourth to have the Herd trailing, 6-4. Steele Netterville and Corona each hit solo home runs in the top of the fifth to make it 8-4 Bulldogs. The next half inning saw Sankovich get hit by a pitch with one out. Billups followed and smashed the first offering he saw over the wall in right center cut LA Tech’s advantage to 8-6. It was the senior’s fifth of the season and third of the week.
Christian Lucio joined in on the home run party as he led off the bottom of the seventh with a long ball to right center for his third of the campaign. After Geordon Blanton walked, Sankovich singled through the right side and Billups drew a base on balls, Edwards stepped into the batter’s box with the bases loaded and no outs. He tied the game with a sacrifice that saw Blanton cross home to tie the contest, 8-8.
The next inning, Cole Williams led off with a single up the middle. Avery Lee came in to pinch run and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After Daniel Carinci lined out to the shortstop, Kyle Schaefer moved Lee to third with a single to center with one out on the scoreboard. Lucio followed with a perfect bunt to the first baseman for a single, scoring Lee to give the home side its first lead of the game, 9-8. Then Blanton singled through the left side to score Schaefer and make 10-8 Marshall.
LA Tech plated a run in the top of the ninth, but reliever Capuano held it off for the series opening victory. The junior righty threw the final five innings of the ballgame, giving up three runs on five hits and a walk while striking out seven Bulldogs.
Marshall closes its series with the Bulldogs on Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m. Both games will be nine innings.
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