The Marshall University baseball team put the tying and go ahead runners on base with one out in the top of the ninth, but the 22nd-ranked Southern Miss Golden Eagles spun a game-ending double play to escape the first of three games with the Thundering Herd, 8-7 on Friday night at Pete Taylor Park.
The game started off on the right foot as Victor Ramos (4-for-4) lined the first pitch of the game off USM starter Todd McInnis for a double into the right-centerfield gap. However, McInnis recorded a pop up, picked off a base runner and tallied a strikeout to end the first half inning of action.
In the bottom half of the frame, the Southern Miss offense batted around against Herd righty Shane Farrell, scoring four times off four hits. B.A. Vollmuth roped a sac fly to center before a RBI double from Marc Bourgeois and run scoring singles by Isaac Rodriguez and Mark Ellis rounded out the early scoring spree.
Farrell kept the Golden Eagles off the scoreboard over the next three innings before being lifted in favor of true-freshman Aaron Blair. Farrell’s final line was four innings of work, giving up four runs (all earned and in the first inning) off six hits with three walks and no strikeouts.
After Blair tossed a scoreless bottom of the fifth, the Herd erupted in the top half of the sixth scoring five times off seven hits to take the first lead of the day.
The pressure from the Herd offense on the USM ace started when Victor Gomez and Rhett Stafford roped singles on back-to-back pitches to bring Nathan Gomez to the dish. The sophomore got down a bunt, but McInnis fielded the ball cleaning, spun and fired to third for the first out. Four of the next five batters for the Herd would collect base hits to chase the USM starter from the ball game. Steven Ross tattooed a double to right-center to bring home a run, followed by an infield single from Thor Meeks to make the sacks packed. After McInnis recorded his eighth strikeout of the night, Kenny Socorro and Ramos hit consecutive singles back through the box to bring home a total of three runs knotting the score at 4-all and ending the day for McInnis. Isaac Ballou greeted right-handed reliever Chase Horn (2-0) with another single up-the-middle, the third in a row, plating Socorro to take the 5-4 lead.
The one-run cushion was popped in the bottom half of the sixth when Ashley Graeter doubled in Mark Ellis to even the score at five. Head coach Jeff Waggoner called upon lefty Kyle Blank out of the bullpen with one out in place of Blair. The senior southpaw did his job, retiring leadoff hitter Kameron Brunty with a fly out as Grater tagged up to move to third. Another call to the pen was made as righty Joe Church was brought in. With two outs, Church retired Tyler Koelling by way of the K, marking just the fourth time he had struck out all season.
MU made an interesting ninth inning when back-to-back one-out doubles from R.Stafford and N.Gomez began the inning. Ross would be plunked making USM bring in closer Collin Cargill. Pinch-hitter James Lavinskas laced a single to center to bring around the seventh run of the ninth, cutting the deficit to one. However, with runners on first and second Cargill would snare a comebacker to turn the game-ending 1-6-3 double play, earning his sixth save of the year.
The Herd outhit the Golden Eagles 14 to 11 as Victor Ramos produced a career-high four base knocks and R.Stafford and Ross each roped two hits in the loss.