CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The Marshall baseball team suffered an 8-4 loss in its midweek contest against No. 21 West Virginia on Tuesday evening at Appalachian Power Park.
The Thundering Herd falls back to even at 18-18 overall. Junior starting pitcher Will Ray (1-2) collected the loss by throwing 5.1 innings. He allowed seven runs on 10 hits. The Mountaineers improve to 22-13 overall. Relief pitcher Riley Troutt (1-0) picked up the win by itching five shutout innings.
Marshall and West Virginia played in front of 4,217 at Power Park. It was the largest attended game for Marshall this season, and most since 6,479 on Feb. 21, 2015 at Mississippi State.
West Virginia wasted little time in setting the tone as it struck in the top of the first inning. Ivan Gonzalez singled to left field with one out and later moved over to second on a Cole Austin walk. Darius Hill drove in the first run of the ballgame with a single to right field to score Gonzalez. After Hill advanced to second on a wild pitch and Kyle Davis was walked, Jimmy Galuski singled through the left side, scoring Austin. Hill was thrown out at the plate by Andrew Zban in left field.
Marshall cut its deficit to one run by manufacturing a run in the bottom of the second inning. Tommy Lane led off the inning with a single up the middle. Reynaldo Pastrana was walked to advance Lane into scoring position. Leo Valenti came up clutch with a two-out single to center field that scored Lane.
The Mountaineers and Thundering Herd traded runs in the third inning. West Virginia had runners on second and third, as Ray was called for a balk, allowing Jackson Cramer to score. Marshall was powered by excellent base running in the bottom half of the frame. Finfer was walked and went on to steal second and third during the next at-bat. Shane Hanon drove him in with a double to center field.
WVU took a 5-2 lead after tacking on a run in the fourth and fifth innings. Gonzalez hit a ground-rule double with runners on the corners, allowing Braden Zarbnisky to touch home. In the fifth, Davis hit a solo home run to left field.
Marshall responded in the bottom of the fifth inning with two runs of its own. Tyler Ratliff and Finfer led off with back-to-back walks. The Herd got the bases loaded following a Hanon single to center field. Billy Sager hit into a fielder’s choice, as Finfer was out at third, but Ratliff scored on the play. In the ensuing at-bat, Pastrana reached on a fielding error by the WVU third baseman and Hanon scored from second.
West Virginia stretched its lead to 7-4 in the top of the sixth on a two-run home run by Gonzalez.
The Mountaineers added an insurance run in the top of the ninth with a Hill groundout RBI.
“We had opportunities to open the game up,” head coach Jeff Waggoner said. “We left some guys in scoring position with less than two outs and we didn’t do a good enough job to drive them in. And that’s what it came down to. Overall we played good defense, but we left too many guys on base.”
Freshman Hunter Sexton and Jacob Bradley made relief appearances for the Thundering Herd. Sexton pitched a nearly perfect 2.2 innings. The Jackson, Ohio native didn’t allow a single hit but walked one batter. He had two strikeouts. Bradley pitched the ninth inning and allowed one run on one hit.
Washington natives Hanon and Valenti led the Herd at the plate. Hanon, a Gig Harbor, Wash., native, was 3-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored. It was his 12th multi-hit game. Valenti, an Olympia, Wash., native, was 2-for-4 with an RBI.