Herd Drops 2-1 Decision To Cleveland State

It was a classic pitchers duel, with Marshall's Chris Koutsavlis and Cleveland State's David Boyza holding each other's team scoreless through five innings of play. It appeared a mistake would be needed to get the win against two superior pitching performances, and Marshall would make one too many in the sixth inning. The Herd lost 2-1 to the Vikings (2-6). Marshall (9-11) will try to bounce back on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at University Heights in the rubber game of the three-game series.

Marshall's head coach, Dave Piepenbrink, was upset with the mistakes by the Herd, not the effort. "Their guy didn't look that great, I thought," said Piepenbrink, "but they probably said the same thing about our guy. We made too many mistakes in a close game to get the win, but sometimes it's just one of those days for your team."

The mistakes Piepenbrink spoke of began in the first inning when center fielder Chris Monaco reached on a Viking error, stole second but was thrown out at third when he missed a sign for the first MU out of the inning. Baseball fans all know--you never want to make the first or third out at third base. An early Herd rally fizzled out at that point.

Monaco and shortstop Mike Koitsopoulos were both caught stealing in the third after a single by "Koit" and walk to Monaco, who was removed from the game for missing a sign and not sliding at second. Koitsopoulos had what turned out to be the "key" mistake of the game, however, when he hit into a double play in the seventh inning with the bases loaded and one out. "That's the play that beat us," said Piepenbrink. "Any runs there might have really broken opened the game for us."

Koutsavlis sailed along for five innings, allowing only five hits and getting great defense behind him. Second baseman Marshall Murray stopped a potential scoring chance for the Vikings by catching a line drive and doubling up CSU shortstop Ben Smith, who had doubled to lead off the third. The play was even bigger when the next Viking hitter, second baseman Brian Lombardi, also doubled. Murray made a catch of a low line drive in the fifth to end a two-on, two-out rally for Cleveland State.

In the sixth, Cleveland State finally dented the scoreboard. A one-out single to center was followed by a single to left. After a fielder's choice put runners at first and third, CSU's designated hitter Jon Skelley put the Vikings up 1-0 with a hit to left. Smith then grounded to MU's Adam Frederick at third for what should have ended the inning, but Herd's first baseman, Roddy Stieger, could not handle the throw and Cleveland State pushed across an unearned run for a 2-0 lead.

Marshall posed its final threat in the eighth when Murray doubled to left with one out. Frederick walked and Francois Larmore forced Frederick on a fielder's choice to make the second out, with runners at first and third. MU then pulled the double-steal, with Larmore stealing second and Murray stealing home to make the score 2-1. Aaron Jamieson, who entered as a pinch-runner in the seventh inning for DH Corie O'Bryan, appeared to be hit by a pitch but the home plate umpire ruled he had not. Jamieson then struck out to end the Herd's threat. MU went 1-2-3 in the ninth.

Koutsavlis pitched six-and-two-thirds innings, surrendering only two runs, one earned, striking out three and walking two but picked up his second loss against one win. Boyza won his first game of the season and Viking reliever Gian Testa worked 2.2 innings of one-run, one-hit ball to collect his first save of the year. Murray was 1-for-4 with one run for the Herd, while Nick Wolle started at catcher and was 1-of-2 for the Herd at the plate. Frederick was held hitless for the second day in a row after a 12-game hitting streak, but did work for two walks, while Monaco stole his Mid-American Conference leading 18 base of the year (although he was thrown out on two other attempts). Chris Cummings pitched 2.1 innings of one-hit baseball.

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