Tennis Falls In NCAAs; Baseball Wins 2 of 3 at BSU

Marshall tennis came up just short against Florida State on Saturday, falling in the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the second-consecutive year by the score of 4-2. It marked the third-consecutive trip to the NCAA post-season for women's tennis at Marshall, second only to football's six consecutive trips to the NCAA I-AA Playoffs between 1991 & 1996. Baseball had a better weekend in Muncie, Indiana, taking two-of-three from Ball State and Track wrapped up 2004 at the MAC Invitational.

Tennis took the doubles point to start the match with the #27 Seminoles, winning at number 1 and number three. Jessica Johnson and Ashley Kroh, the Herd's number one doubles team, won 8-6, as did Danielle Hock and Meghan Skalsky at number three. Johnson and Kroh will continue to play this weekend, as they are among 32 doubles teams invited to the NCAA Doubles Finals in Athens, Georgia.

Johnson won her singles event at number one, upsetting the number-34th ranked Anca Dumitrescu 6-1, 6-1. Marshall, however, would lose at numbers two, three and four and was trailing at number five at the time of the loss. "I think we really played hard," Herd coach John Mercer told The Herald-Dispatch on Saturday, "but maybe we didn't play as well as we could." Marshall finishes the season 22-5, with all five losses coming to ranked teams, as the 55th-ranked Herd finishes the best season in school history with a 35-game matches won streak in the Mid-American Conference still alive and all but three seniors (Johnson, Skalsky and Alice Sukner) return for 2005, the last season in the MAC. This was MU's third consecutive MAC Tournament Championship and second-consecutive regular season MAC title.

Baseball moved closer to the first winning season in a decade and, perhaps, the most wins in school history with a historic series win over Ball State this weekend. MU had never taken a series from the Cardinals since rejoining the MAC for baseball in 1998 and Marshall won its third MAC series of the season as well. Marshall had never won three series in MAC play (1998-2003, 1954-68) and last won more than two conference series a decade ago in 1994, when the 23-20 Herd took Southern Conference series from Georgia Southern (2-of-2), ETSU (2-of-2), Appy State (2-of-2), The Citadel (3-of-3) and Davidson (2-of-3 games played).

Game one on Friday was stopped in the third by rain and picked up on Saturday with Marshall leading 4-2, thanks to a four-run first on Friday. Herd leftfielder Francois Larmore had a run-scoring single and rightfielder Joe Glevenyak cleared the bases with a double to get the Herd off to a quick start. Chris Cummings (4-3) came back on Saturday to pitch into the seventh inning, allowing on two runs on four hits including BSU's Kevin Dygert's two-run home run on Friday in the second inning, while striking out nine. Steve Ziroli pitched two and two-thirds innings to pick up his second save of 2004 (career save number four) and allowed no runs or hits although he had to pitch out of bases loaded in two of three innings. Chris Monaco stole two more bases to extend his MU single-season record to 36 for the season. The MAC record is 50 in a year.

Marshall appeared ready to win game two on Saturday, holding a 3-1 lead and close Chris Meadows entering the game looking for his sixth save of the season. Meadows broke the MAC career record for appearances with his 94th career game, breaking a record set by Ball State's Matt Speicher, but it is a game he might sooner forget. Meadows (1-4) gave up two runs in the ninth to allow BSU to tie the game, then surrendered the winning run to the Cardinals in the 10th inning. It also wasted a great effort by MU's starter, Chris Koutsavlis, who had allowed only one run on three hits in the first eight innings. Marshall scored on a home run by Roddy Steiger (2-for-4) and had doubles by Corie O'Bryan and Larmore.

On Sunday, Marshall struck early with three runs in the first, then added single runs in the third, fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth to win 8-2 and take the series. Steiger (2-of-5 in the game) homered again for the Herd, as did catcher Rich Russell (3-of-4), who also had a two-run single in the first. Larmore continued his team high 10-game hitting streak with a 3-for-5 day, scoring two runs and driving in one. Third baseman Adam Frederick continued his hot hitting, going 2-for-4 in the game, 5-11 in the series and 16-0f-27 over the last 10 days/seven games, hitting nearly .600 over that stretch.

Marshall got seven and two-thirds inning from freshman Brian Chrisman (4-3) and Ziroli again allowed no runs and no hits in an inning and one-third of relief. Marshall is 24-27, tying for the third-most wins in school history with the 1975 and 2001 teams. Marshall has a game Wednesday at Eastern Kentucky and three games with Buffalo this weekend to wrap up the season and, with a sweep of all four games, could post the first winning season since '94 and set a new all-time win mark for MU baseball (27 wins in 1978).

Women's track wrapped the 2004 season at the MAC Invitational over the weekend. Marshall was led by junior Zedmalia Wolfe, who was seventh in the 400-meter dash (55.62) and eighth in the 200-meter dash (25.07). Other top finshes for the Herd included: senior Amana Halsey, who was seventh in the javelin (124-03) and 12th in the discus (124-67); senior Shani Brown, ninth in the shot put (45.04.25); and senior Shelby Pride, 13th in the 3000-meter steeplechase (11:37.60).

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