Olympic Sports

Herd Baseball Wins Home Opener 3-0; Softball 4-0 At GSU Eagle Classic, 13-4 Overall

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Martin Shines in Baseball’s 3-0 Win over Lehigh

 HUNTINGTON — Sophomore right-hander Wade Martin led the Marshall baseball team past the Lehigh Mountain Hawks, 3-0, Saturday at the Kennedy Center Field. Marshall picked up its second consecutive win, as it improves to 3-5 overall. Lehigh suffered its third-straight loss and moves to 1-3.

Martin earned his first win of the season with a career day on the mound. The Wheelersburg, Ohio, native tossed 5.1 scoreless innings with a career-high eight strikeouts. He recorded five straight strikeouts that went from the second to the fourth inning. Martin allowed two hits and three walks in the contest.

The Thundering Herd got on the board in the bottom of the first inning. Will Ray led off with a walk and later advanced to second on a wild pitch. After a Sam Finfer walks, Tyler Ratliff doubled to right center field on the first pitch to score Ray and Finfer.

Tyler Ratliff bats.

Tyler Ratliff drove in two runs with a double in the first inning, and the Herd went on to win 3-0 over Lehigh. There is a DH Sunday, starting at 10 a.m. with temps – hopefully – reaching the mid-60s for the games at the Rt. 2 YMCA Glenbrier Center and the George Smailes field. (Herd Insider file photo)

Marshall added its third run in the fourth inning. Shane Hanon worked a leadoff walk. Hanon moved over to second a sacrifice bunt by Cory Garrastazu. Hanon was able to move over to third on a throwing error by the Lehigh pitcher, then Damian Rodriguez drove in Hanon on a single through the right side.

Lehigh had chances to score in the sixth and seventh innings with the bases loaded. Freshman pitcher Hunter Sexton got the Herd out of both jams. Sexton came into the pitch in the sixth with one out. The Jackson, Ohio, native struck out a Lehigh batter and forced one to foul out.

In the seventh, He got out of the inning with a fly out to center field with two outs. Sexton pitched 3.1 innings with four strikeouts and had a pick off.

Redshirt junior Matt Reed relived Sexton with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. Reed picked up his first career save with a strike out.

Marshall closes out its series against Lehigh on Sunday with a doubleheader against the Mountain Hawks. First pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m., and for Marshall sophomore pitchers Patrick Murphy and Joshua Shapiro are expected to start for the Herd.

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MUSB 2017 Ali Burdett go-ahead HR vs. GSU

Ali Burdette pitches in the 7-1 win over EKU, then rocks the Georgia Southern Eagles with the go-ahead home run in seventh of the 8-6 win. The 4-0 Herd at Eagle Classic with a Sunday game to go against Delaware State. Marshall is now 13-4 overall and opens the home and C-USA slate next weekend at “The Dot” with UTSA coming to town. (photo courtesy Marshall Softball)

Softball Wins Two, Beating EKU 7-2 and Georgia Southern 8-6

STATESBORO, Ga. – The Marshall softball team fought back to complete a day two sweep at the Eagle Classic on Saturday. The Herd (13-4) first defeated EKU 7-2. In game two, Marshall scored three runs in the top of the seventh to take down Georgia Southern, 8-6, after holding the 5-0 lead into the fifth inning. The Herd is 4-0 so far in the Eagle Classic and is in first place with one game to go on Sunday.

Coach Shonda Stanton is happy with how the Herd played in both games today. “In the EKU game, we did a great job of taking the next 60 feet on all of their defensive miscues. (Morgan) Zerkle came up with the big bases-clearing double to break the game open,” Stanton said. “We were pleased with the relief innings that (Ali) Burdette provided and the defense behind her.

“Our game versus Georgia Southern was exciting. We had talked after game one that we need to do a better job of putting teams away and we saw that, after jumping out to a 5-0 lead, how we allowed them to jump right back in the game.

“I cannot say enough about the spark and leadership Shae (Braxton) is providing, from her pre-game energy to on the field focus and her timely RBI knocks. She plays hard which was reflected with the diving catch in the seventh.”

In game one against the Colonels, the Marshall offense continued its hot start with two runs in the first. Elicia D’Orazio led off with an infield single and crossed the plate for the first run after a single to left by Taylor McCord. For McCord, it was her team-leading 19th RBI of the season. The junior catcher eventually scored as well, taking advantage of an error at second base as Briana Daiss hit a pitch to the right side.

EKU cut the deficit to one in the bottom of the first. Jordan Dixon responded with two strikeouts to end the inning and strand two runners on base.

The Herd added three more in the second as Morgan Zerkle cleared the bases with a double to left field. Madi Marshall, Jordan Colliflower and D’Orazio all came home to give Marshall a 5-1 lead. The double was Zerkle’s 233rd hit of her career moving her into fifth place all-time, passing Carrie Hinkle (1994-97).

Dixon continued to lock down on the Colonels with two more strikeouts in both the second and third innings. Marshall added one more run in the third and another in the fourth to bring the score to 7-1. Colliflower drove in Daiss in the third, and then Daiss drove home McCord in the fourth.

Dixon pitched the first four innings for Marshall and struck out six while allowing just one hit and one run. Ali Burdette entered the circle in the fifth inning and went the final three innings. Burdette allowed three hits and one run as EKU added a final run in the seventh.

Zerkle finished the game 2-for-3 at the plate with three RBI doubles and one stolen base.

MUSB 2017 Morgan Zerkle

Morgan Zerkle continues to tear the cover off the softball, going 4-for-7 today, with one run, a double, four runs batted in, a stolen base and 5 assists in the outfield. (Herd Insider file photo)

The Herd’s game two was the type of ball game that can get a crowd excited and on its feet as the Thundering Herd showed a lot of fight to get the Saturday sweep. Marshall took the lead 5-0 after the top half of the fifth. Georgia Southern then scored four in the bottom of the fifth and two in the sixth to take the lead, 6-5. The Herd then clawed and blasted its way back for three more runs in the seventh, along with great defensive plays in the bottom half, to get the win.

After the first two innings in which the game looked like it was going to be a pitching and defensive battle, Marshall got on the scoreboard first in the third with two runs. DeShields led off the inning with a walk and Colliflower came in to pinch run.

Tribolet and D’Orazio reached on infield singles to load the bases. Zerkle stepped up and delivered a double to left. Colliflower came home to score and Tribolet was called out at the plate. D’Orazio scored from third with McCord at the plate on a wild pitch.

Dixon and the Marshall defense continued to keep the Eagles in check over the next couple innings, holding the two-run lead.

Braxton delivered for the Herd in the top of the fifth with a three-run blast to right field that scored Zerkle and McCord. But Georgia Southern answered in the bottom of the fifth with four runs, cutting the deficit from five to one. One walk followed by four straight hits and an error led to the big inning for the Eagles. The Marshall defense then recorded three straight outs, including two strikeouts by Dixon, to end the inning and strand two runners on base.

The Herd put two base runners on in the sixth but could not find the timely hit. In the bottom of the sixth, with two outs, the Eagles added two more runs to take the lead. Georgia Southern came through with three straight hits; a solo home run, a triple and then a RBI single to go ahead, 6-5.

Marshall came up to the plate in the top of the seventh needing to score at least one run to keep the game going. McCord led off with an infield single, just beating out the throw by the second baseman. McCord then recorded her third stolen base of the game to get into scoring position. Daiss stepped up for the Herd with a one-out single into center. The throw home was not in time as McCord scored from second to tie the game.

Two batters later, Burdette came in to pinch hit with two outs and Daiss at second. Burdette attacked the first pitch she saw, and shot a home run over the wall in center and Marshall took the lead, 8-6.

The Herd received great defensive plays in the bottom of the seventh to record the win. Braxton made a diving catch in foul territory down the third baseline for the first out. Braxton then caught an easier pop up by the third base dugout for the second out. The final out came on another foul ball as DeShields laid out to make the catch over the first baseline. Marshall came away with the 8-6 win.

“We have been talking about McCord’s consistency and she proved again tonight what a well-rounded ball player she has become,” Stanton said. “It is also really nice to see our younger athletes step up with Daiss notching the game-tying RBI in the seventh and then Burdette had the moment of the weekend with the monster blast to center to seal the win for us.

“Nothing better than to watch from the third base box a hitter enter in a key situation and come up clutch and to see the celebration at the plate in that moment. My staff has really enjoyed watching our squad compete this weekend.”

Marshall will finish its trip to Statesboro, Ga., with a final game against Delaware State on Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. The Herd will then head home for both its Conference USA and the 2017 home opener against UTSA, March 11-12, at Dot Hicks Field at Marshall.

About Woody Woodrum

Senior Editor and columnist/writer for Herd Insider since 2003, with Kindred Communications on radio for Marshall football/men's basketball pregame and postgame shows since 1996 and with First Sentry Bank Sportsline (Also Scott on Sports, Sideline Sports and Herd Insider Sportsline) since 1997. Married to Liz (12-22-1990) and one son, Tre' (11-7-1997). National Sportswriters & Sportscasters West Virginia Broadcaster of the Year winner for radio, 2000; won W.Va. Broadcasters Best Talk Show in 2013 with co-host Paul Swann and W.Va. Broadcasters Best Play-by-Play in 2015 with Jason Toy (Huntington at South Charleston, state AAA semifinals). Member of (College) Football Writers Association of America, (College) Basketball Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Color commentator for Marshall football (1999-2000), for Marshall basketball (2004-2016) and Marshall baseball (2004-2016). Color for high school football at Spring Valley (1999-2008), Cabell Midland (2009-2012) and Huntington (W.Va.) High School (2013-2016).

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