It’s understandable that Aaron Blair was a bit too amped up as he toed the rubber to face West Virginia leadoff hitter Bobby Boyd. It was the first time the two schools had met in the state of West Virginia since 1998.
More than 1,600 fans turned out on a cool March night to take in the rivalry game, and among those in attendance were 22 Major League Baseball scouts, all there to watch Blair.
“I came out and was overly anxious and the pitching coach came out in the first inning and I settled down and just got into a groove,” Blair said after Marshall’s 8-0 shutout of the Mountaineers.
Blair loaded the bases to start the game by walking two batters and hitting a third. However, after that he dazzled the mostly green-clad crowd and showed the scouts why he is considered a first-round draft pick in June. Of the next 21 batters, Blair struck out 11 and didn’t give up a hit. In fact, only two West Virginia batters were even able to get the ball out of the infield.
His final line: six innings, zero hits, 11 strikeouts, four walks, two ht batters. Aside from the wildness, it was a great night.
“I’d say that’s the best I’ve thrown this year and it was a perfect day for everything to work,” Blair said with a slight grin.
The performance by Marshall’s ace really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Blair has been pitching lights out all season. He has recorded quality starts in each of his last three outings. In his last three games, the Las Vegas native has an ERA of 0.95, 22 strikeouts and just six hits allowed.
He’s only given up 15 hits all season.
As good as Blair was Tuesday night, he could have been better. Too often he fell behind hitters and had to work from behind in the count. He also walked four batters and hit two more. Coming into the game, Blair had allowed just six walks on the season.
Blair’s command of a four-seam and a two-seam fastball, which he can deliver consistently in the mid-90s, as well as a curveball and a changeup, is why Major League scouts are high on Blair.
Only three former Marshall pitchers have stepped on a Major League mound. Rick Reed was picked in the 26th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1986 and played in the big leagues until 2003. Jeff Montgomery was selected in the ninth round of the draft by the Cincinnati Reds in 1983.
Blair could make Marshall history in June during the Major League Draft, but Herd fans are hoping he makes a little history before his college days are complete.