Despite struggles throughout season, Beals optimistic Marshall moving in right direction

— By Bill Cornwell

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall’s 2024 baseball season came to an end on Saturday when the Thundering  Herd dropped a 9-5 contest to the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers on Senior Day at Jack Cook Field.

Coastal swept the Sun Belt Conference series, leaving the Herd with a final record of 18-37, including 9-21 in Sun Belt Conference play.

Marshall finished 13th out of 14 teams in the league and failed to qualify for the Sun Belt Tournament, which features the top 10 teams in the league standings and begins Tuesday in Montgomery, Alabama.

For Marshall, strong pitching was not matched by timely hitting in many cases. Marshall had a team batting average of .233 while opponents hit at a .273 clip.

The Herd’s earned run average as a team was 6.09, while the opposition’s pitching posted a 4.17 ERA.

Despite losing two-thirds of its games and finishing with a 3-21 road record, Marshall head coach Greg Beals believes there were strides in 2024 following a 16-37 campaign a year earlier.

“I’m excited, because we’re moving the needle and the win total moved up,” Beals said. “We would’ve liked to have seen it move up more. I really feel like character and culture is growing and that’s got to continue to grow, because that’s what leads to wins.”

Marshall’s biggest news came with the first season in its on-campus ballpark, the first in program history. The Herd had a 14-12 record at “The Jack”, including a notable win against West Virginia and a quality victory against Ohio and Sun Belt series victories over Arkansas State and Texas State.

Another of the season’s highlights came on Opening Day at Jack Cook Field when Marshall second baseman Tre Hondras hit the first pitch thrown to a Herd player over the left field fence on the way to a 3-0 win over Manhattan.

Beals has a lot of holes to fill in his roster as Marshall loses 17 seniors. Those losses include Hondras, pitchers Drew Harlow and Jack Firestone and catcher Owen Ayers.

Ayers’ loss leaves a large void, as he led Marshall in slugging percentage, runs, hits, doubles and total bases.

Tops among potential returnees is starting pitcher Bryce Blevins, who posted a 3-5 record this season with a team-best 3.45 ERA.

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