HUNTINGTON — Marshall had not been shut out in a series in Conference USA this whole season, but the Owls of Florida Atlantic were thinking sweep after taking wins on both Good Friday and Saturday. It was time to put up the brooms, however, when the Herd hit some good eggs pitched their way out of the park, and played shutout baseball on Easter Sunday down in Boca Raton, Fla.
The Herd baseball team homered three times and Jacob Niggemeyer pitched a complete game shutout to lead the Thundering Herd to a 7-0 win over Florida Atlantic on Sunday at the FAU Baseball Stadium. It was Marshall’s first complete game with a shutout since the 2003 season.
In 2003, Dave Piepenbrink was still coaching the Herd team with players like Chris Meadows, Grant Harper, Steve Ziroli, Chris Koutsavlis, Matt Koitsopoulos, Craig Dziedziejko, Adam Frederick, Francois Larmore and Corie O’Bryan.
Niggemeyer tossed a career-high nine innings and held Florida Atlantic to a tied season-low four hits. The Columbus, Ohio native had one strikeout and one walk. The junior handed FAU its first shutout loss at home since Rice on May 8, 2015, and it was the Owls’ first shutout loss since UAB on May 23, 2015, at the C-USA Tournament.
Niggemeyer became the first Herd pitcher to throw a 9-inning complete game shutout since Grant Harper at Bowling Green State in a Mid-American Conference game back on April 25, 2003, for a Herd team that finished 22-31-1. Niggemeyer tossed the first complete game for the Herd this season, and first since Chase Boster had a complete game win Old Dominion on May 19 last season as the Herd was 34-21, 21-9 in C-USA — the first winning season for the Marshall program since Howard McCann’s team was 23-20, 10-8 in the Southern Conference.
The Herd improves to 18-17 (7-8 Conference USA), while the Owls fall to 24-10-1 (11-4 C-USA). Florida Atlantic’s starting pitcher Jake Miednik (4-3) took the loss by allowing three runs in six innings. Marshall has won at least one game in every C-USA series played this year, 4-5 on the road and 3-3 at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston, W.Va. The Herd will play the Golden Panthers of FIU this weekend at Linda K. Epling Stadium in Beckley, W.Va., the only series scheduled at the sometime home of the Herd in southern West Virginia.
After losing back to back games at FAU, 7-3 in Friday’s lid-lifter and by 12-6 on Saturday in game two, Marshall struck in the top of the first inning in game three. Will Ray led off the frame with a single to right, then moved to second after Sam Finfer was walked. The Herd pulled off the perfect double steal as Finfer and Ray reached second base and third and Shane Hanon drove in the pair with a two-RBI single to center field.
In the third, Finfer hit a solo home run to right field with two outs, clearing the FAU bullpen behind the right field fence. Meanwhile, Niggemeyer held Florida Atlantic to one hit through the four innings.
Marshall’s bats put the game away with four runs after two outs in the eighth. Finfer led off the inning with a single to left. After two outs, Reynaldo Pastrana singled to right field to advance Finfer to third. Andrew Zban cleared the bases with a three-run home run to right field. Billy Sager followed with a solo home run to right field, sealing the seven-run win for the Herd, as the Herd sophomore from Huntington and senior from Kenova, W.Va. played long ball to set the final.
Six players combined for nine hits for the Herd. Finfer was 2-for-4 with a walk and one RBI, scoring three runs, while Hanon was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Sager was 2-for-2 with a RBI and a run scored, coming in for Tucker Linder after the frosh was 0-for-2 to start the game. Zban led the Herd with three RBIs on his fifth home run since hitting two last week at UAB and one against Ohio U. in last Wednesday’s 12-9 win over the Bobcats.