HUNTINGTON — Marshall baseball moved over .500 on the season with a 9-3 win at former Southern Conference rival East Tennessee State University, the Herd’s fifth loss in a row. The game in Johnson City, Tenn. was at Thomas Stadium, and Will Ray — an infielder for the Herd who is hitting a team-best .409 — picked up a win in his first start for the Herd, pitching five innings of four hit, no run baseball.
For the Herd (6-5) in hitting this game, Billy Sager, a redshirt senior who played locally at Huntington’s Spring Valley High School, led off and hit 2-of-4 with his first double of the year and scored a run. Senior second baseman Sam Finfer was even better in the three-hole, 3-of-4 with three runs scored, a double (his fourth) and one run batted in, and Finfer came in hitting .355.
Junior third baseman Tyler Ratliff, was 2-of-5 with his second home run of the year, scored three runs and drove in two, giving him 11 RBI. Senior first baseman Tommy Lane was 2-for-5, with his second double of the years, driving in two (six on the year) and scoring a run. Reynaldo Pastrana, the sophomore DH, was 2-of-3 with a RBI (4), Shane Hanon (a redshirt sophomore) drove in his first RBI and senior shortstop Loe Valenti was 2-of-4 with his third double of the year and scored a run.
For the Bucs, they used seven pitchers with starting senior Griffin Krieg going the longest with 3.0 innings pitched. He allowed six hits, three runs (all earned in the third), walked one and struck out six. Their leading hitter was freshman first baseman Cade Gilbert, who was 2-for-4 with a run scored and a RBI, picking up his fifth double.
Marshall opened the top of the third with Valenti striking out and Sager grounding out. The two-out magic started with Finfer drawing a walk and moving to second when Ratliff singled. Lane doubled to right center, driving in both runs for the 2-0 lead, Pastrana followed with a single to plate Lane and the Herd led 3-0.
In the fifth, Sager, Finfer and Ratliff all singled to load the bases. With one out, Pastrana reached on a fielder’s choice and Sager scored on the error. Hanon followed with a ground out that drove in Finfer, then Ratliff scored on a passed ball to Reed, who reached on the wild pitch third strike. The next inning, Valenti singled then moved to second on a wild pitch. Finfer singled to drive in Valenti, followed by a two-run homer by Ratliff to right field, and the Herd led 9-0 with three in the fifth and sixth.
ETSU (7-5) broke through in the bottom of the sixth, with Parker Bein, a sophomore, taking over on the mound. Hagen Owenby reached on a one-out single and advanced to second on an Aaron Maher single, then Bein sent Owenby to third on a wild pitch. Bailey grounded out, but Owenby scored, followed by Maher scoring on a passed ball by Reed, and Marshall led 9-2. Bein pitched one inning, with two hits, two runs though just one earned.
The Bucs added one more in the ninth to set the final at 9-3, as Brad O’Connor picked up his second save of the season. O’Connor allowed three hits in 3.0 innings pitched, with one (earned) run, a walk and one strikeout.
Due to impending cold weather set for this weekend, Marshall baseball has announced a change to this weekend’s schedule against the Niagara Purple Eagles at the Kennedy Center Field on Route 2. The Herd and Purple Eagles will now play Thursday at 3 p.m. The second game of the series will take place Friday at 2 p.m., while the final game will be held Saturday at 1 p.m.
Niagara enters this weekend’s series with a 6-5 overall record. The Purple Eagles swept Norfolk State in a three-game series, defeated La Salle University twice and handed No. 12 Virginia its first loss of the season. Niagara is led at the plate by Greg Cullen, Peter Battaglia and Tanner Kirwer. Cullen has a team-high nine RBIs, while Battaglia and Kirwer each has seven RBIs.