CHARLESTON, W. Va. — Aaron Blair and Josh King combined to strike out 17 and limited WVU to two hits as Marshall shutout the Mountaineers 8-0 at Appalachian Power Park.
With Major League scouts in looking on, Blair (3-1) befuddled WVU batters all night, fanning 11 and holding the Mountaineers hitless through six innings.
“He had a great game and set the tone early on,” said Herd coach Jeff Waggoner.
While Blair dominated the Mountaineers much of the night, he got off to a shaky start in the top of the first inning. Blair walked the first two hitters and hit the third to load the bases with nobody out.
“He struggled and he told me he was rushing his mechanics, and with all the scouts here and this being the West Virginia game he was a little jumpy,” said Waggoner.
Blair regrouped after a quick conference on the mound and pitched his way out of the jam. Blair struck out the next three WVU batters and the Mountaineers didn’t threaten again in the game. The 6-foot-5 right-hander mowed through the WVU lineup through the next five innings although Waggoner said Blair could have been better.
“Aaron wasn’t as sharp as he usually is,” critiqued Waggoner. “He wasn’t getting ahead enough.”
Blair did walk four batters and hit two more.
With The Herd’s pitchers dominating, the offense executed the basics, getting runners on base and getting them home. Marshall scored in four of the first five innings.
Isaac Ballou singled to led off the first and eventually came around to score on a WVU throwing error.
The Marshall bats went back to work in the bottom of the second. Chase Vogelbach and Aaron Bossi each singled to lead off the inning. Waggoner used a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up and Marshall once again took advantage of a WVU error bringing Vogelbach and Bossi home giving The Herd a 3-0 lead.
The Herd broke the game open in the third inning. Eric Escobedo doubled down the left-field line scoring Nathan Gomez. Vogelbach followed that up with a single up the middle driving home Gray Stafford and Escobedo.
“You want to keep that momentum on your side,” said Waggoner. “They did a good job of getting on base and getting runners over. “
Marshall tacked on two more runs in the fifth to put the game out of reach.
“It’s always about getting quality at-bats and swinging at quality pitches, and luckily for us they found some holes,” said Waggoner.
King picked up his first save of the season pitching the final three innings. He struck out six and allowed WVU’s only two hits of the game.
Marshall now goes on the road for a four-game series with Radford this weekend and will take on SEC foe Kentucky next week.