WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.— In 40 degree temperatures that only fell as the night wore on, Marshall baseball brought the heat in a twinbill against Wake Forest Monday. Marshall had four Herd pitchers reach speeds above 85 miles per hour, with two clocking above 90 on the radar gun.
Roscoe Blackburn (Worthington, Ohio) made his debut for the kelly green and white Monday, getting the start in game one. In five innings, the southpaw recorded three strikeouts and one walk while scattering four hits.
Blackburn’s first strikeout of his collegiate career came when he caught Wake Forest shortstop Jimmy Redovian looking to end the 3rd inning.
The freshman allowed two runs in the first, after two singles and a walk allowed WFU to get an early lead.
Things were quiet for the Herd until the top of the 3rd, when junior Sergio Leon (Miami) hit a hard ball to the third baseman. Speedster Leon beat the tag, and a throwing error gave him the chance to go to second.
He would go on to score, advancing on a wild pitch and two singles by freshman Corey Bird (Elkview, W.Va.) and junior Andrew Dundon (Lincoln Park, N.J.). Sophomore Aaron Bossi (St. Louis, Mo.) was also on board thanks to a hit-by-pitch.
Bird and Bossi would also score thanks to a sacrifice fly from junior Eric Escobedo (Troup, Ga.)
With a 3-2 lead, the Herd would hold the Demon Deacons until the bottom of the seventh when reliever Chase Boster (Stafford, Va.) gave up back to back doubles.
Tied at three runs apiece, Marshall brought in set-up man Kolin Stanley (Beloit, Ohio). Stanley would get 1.1 innings of work, nabbing two strikeouts.
Stanley returned to the mound in the bottom of the 9th, and on his second pitch of the inning, gave up a walk-off homerun to WFU’s Nate Mondou.
“I wish I could have stayed in a bit longer, but it went well for my first time being out there,” Blackburn said of his debut.
In what started as a defensive showdown for both teams turned into an exciting game for the Herd, after designated hitter Chase Vogelbach (Ft. Myers, Fla.) notched a double down the left field line. Another throwing error against WFU pushed the sophomore home, giving the Herd a 1-0 lead.
Things would again heat up for the Herd (despite a frigid nightly temperature) in the 4th.
Escobedo would start things off with a walk and a stolen base. Another walk to Vogelbach put runners on first and second.
Enter Cory Garrastazu (Miami). The freshman belted a double into right center, allowing both Escobedo and Vogelbach to score, giving the Herd a 3-0 lead. Garrastazu would score two plays later to add to the Herd’s insurance.
The outfielder went 4-7 in his opening weekend of college baseball, raking in four RBI.
The Marshall pitching staff demonstrated an outstanding performance in game two. Starter Michael Taylor (St. Albans, W.Va.) reached speeds of 91 mph in his first start of the season. The sophomore threw five innings, allowing three hits and two walks with four K’s.
His performance was followed by lefty Alex Thackston (Proctorville, Ohio), who grabbed three strikeouts in 1.2 innings of work.
Thackston was relieved by sophomore Brandyn Sittinger (LaGrange, Ohio) who threw a total of three pitches to get the last out of the 7th.
Sittinger warmed up the night- clocking in at 91, 92, and 93 mph.
Redshirt senior Ryan Hopkins (Sardinia, Ohio) took the mound for his 2014 debut in the bottom of the 8th. Hopkins would give up WFU’s first run of the game after a walk and single would allow designated hitter Charlie Morgan to score.
Hopkins returned to the hill in the 9th, and made the Herd nervous after a leadoff walk proceeded a double. The right hander was able to seal the win for Marshall, recording 2 Ks and getting a fly out to conclude the contest.
“I was excited to finally get the opportunity to throw,” Hopkins said of his delayed beginning. “It was a pretty good outing, but I was a little rusty first time out. It was a good team win, though.”
Marshall is now .500, after going 2-2 in opening weekend. The Herd returns to North Carolina to face North Carolina A&T in a three game series beginning Friday February 21.