Marshall's Coach, Player Suspended After Bump

Marshall head baseball coach Jeff Waggoner and sophomore shortstop Brandon Casamassima were suspended for the Herd's next three games for bumping a Conference USA umpire in Saturday's 18-3 loss at Southern Miss in Hattiesburg, Miss. The coach and player served game one of the suspension on Sunday in game three of the series, also won by USM 9-2, and will miss games 1 & 2 vs. UAB this weekend.

Marshall baseball had already been attempting to add some games, but no local school had any dates available this week. Coach Waggoner, in his first season at the helm at MU, and Casamassima, a sophomore in his first year with the Herd out of Coffeyville, Texas, will serve their suspensions during games one and two of an important Conference USA three-game series with the Blazers of UAB. Marshall fell into ninth place by being swept by the Golden Eagles, while UCF won one of three with Memphis and UAB took two of three from reeling Tulane, losers of eight of its last nine. Only the top eight teams make the C-USA Tournament, beginning May 22 in Greenville, N.C. at East Carolina University.

Shortstop Brandon Casamassima (shown) and Marshall head coach Jeff Waggoner were suspended for bumping an umpire on Saturday when the Herd faced Southern Miss. Photo from Marshall sports information.

"My actions and the actions of my player on Saturday were regrettable and I apologize to the umpire, players and fans," Waggoner said. "I accept full responsibility and we will continue to serve the mandatory suspension." An account of the actions appeared in Sunday's Clarion Ledger newspaper, in Clarion, Mississippi: "Brandon Casamassima was tossed for saying something to home plate umpire Chris Coskey after striking out to end the fourth inning. Casamassima then went chest to chest with Coskey. That brought Marshall coach Jeff Waggoner from the dugout, who quickly got the thumb, and then bumped Coskey. Both Casamassima and Waggoner (were) not be on the field (Sunday), as they begin serving the first of three-game suspensions assessed by the umpiring crew. "

The story was reported much the same in the local paper that cover Southern Miss, The Hattiesburg American: "Marshall shortstop Brandon Casamassima and coach Jeff Waggoner were ejected after the top half of the fourth inning. Casamassima argued a called third strike with home plate umpire Chris Coskey, went chest-to-chest with Coskey and had to be restrained. Waggoner came out of the dugout and, basically, did the same thing. He hurled a trash can out of the dugout onto the field upon making his exit."

Southern Miss went onto score six runs each in the bottom of the fourth and in the bottom of the fifth and the Herd was mercied 18-3 in the game in seven innings by C-USA rule (15 runs after seven innings on Saturdays, 10 runs on Sunday). USM (30-19, 11-10 and in fifth in C-USA) won Friday's game by an 8-4 score and Sunday by 9-2. The Herd is now 19-26 overall, 4-13 in league play. UCF is just in front of Marshall at 5-13 in league play (23-26 overall) and UAB is 7-11 in C-USA, but just 20-29 overall. Marshall will play UAB at Charleston's Appalachian Power Park Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at Noon and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Saturday is Marshall Alumni Day at the APP, with a $20 ticket for box seats also allowing Herd fans to picnic with the team between games, and also give fans admission to that night's 7 p.m. game with the West Virginia Power (21-7, first place in the South Atlantic League) hosting the Greensboro Grasshoppers (17-12, second to the Power in the SAL North Division). It is also "Charleston Charlies" Cap Night, with free caps to fans that celebrate the AAA International League team that played in the state capital in the 1970s as an affliate of the Houston Astros and Pittsburgh Pirate, winning a couple of titles. The Herd will also introduce its seniors on Saturday, and Sunday is also a Herd-Power double-dip, with the Power going at 2 p.m. after the Herd's 10:30 a.m. start.

Marshall will finish C-USA play at home with the Blazers, and then face Miami, Ohio in the final game of the year at University Heights in Huntington on May 15. MU wraps up the regular and conference season with three games at Central Florida in Orlando on May 18-19-20 and hopes to move on from Orlando to Greenville, N.C. for the C-USA Tournament.

Marshall's Jeff Rowley had his 16-game hitting-streak broken Sunday at Southern Miss. Photo from Marshall sports information.

Also on Sunday, left fielder Jeff Rowley of the Herd had his team-best 16 game hitting-streak ended with an 0-for-2 day against the Eagles. Rowley still leads the Herd with a .336 batting average. Freshman second baseman Josh Valle and junior catcher Tommy Johnson (2-for-4 Sunday) are next at .314 while senior first baseman Brit Vincent is hitting .302. Freshman center fielder Mason Chapman, who had a 1-for-4 day Sunday with a run batted in, is hitting .299 in his first season out of nearby Cabell Midland High School. Casamassima, who is hitting .295 for MU, leads the Herd with 35 RBI and has eight home runs, while designated hitter Brendan Murphy leads the team with 11 doubles and nine homers, while adding 26 RBI. North Carolina transfer and sophomore right fielder Nate Lape is hitting .281 with seven doubles, two triples, four home runs and 19 RBI after missing the first 16 games of the year with an injury.

Pitching-wise, junior Andrew Blain leads the staff with a 4-2 mark after losing in four innings pitched on Saturday and saw his earned run average raise to 5.60. Sunday's losing pitcher Jeremy Sloan dipped to 3-3 on the year this weekend, but leads the starters with 71.1 innings pitched. He is tied among starters with a 5.55 ERA, along with Brian Chrisman, who is 3-6 and who leads the team with 53 strikeouts in 58.1 innings pitched and who took the loss on Friday night. Ryan Kiel is 4-4, but has a 9.39 ERA. Nick Wolle has the low ERA on the staff with a 1.98 earned runs in 19 appearances and set a new Marshall record with his seventh save of the season against Houston. Wolle is 1-3 overall and is averaging almost a strikeout per inning with 24 over 27.1 innings pitched.

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