That will be five games in four days for the Marshall baseball team, and the three this weekend against UAB may hold the key for Marshall making the Conference USA Tournament in Greenville, N.C. on May 22nd. The Herd is currently in ninth place in the nine-team baseball league, and only the top eight make the tourney. MU is 4-13 in league play (19-26 overall), but is just one game behind Central Florida (5-13 C-USA, 23-26 overall) for eighth and two and one-half behind the Blazers, who are 7-11 in league play and 20-30 overall after falling on Tuesday at Troy, 20-15. Marshall finishes home play in C-USA this weekend at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston, then travels to Orlando, Florida to face UCF in the final regular season games of the year.
Freshman second baseman Josh Valle, hitting .314 this season, may be called on at shortstop this weekend when the Herd hosts UAB in Conference USA baseball at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston, W.Va.photo from Herdzone.com
UAB and Marshall will face off in game one at 7 p.m., heard live on WRVC 930 AM starting at 6:45 (pod casts of all games are also available after the contests at www.wrvc.com). The Blazers took two-of-three from the reeling Tulane Green Wave (who have dropped to 9-12 in league play, 30-20 overall) while Marshall was beaten by Southern Miss 8-4, 18-3 and 9-2. The Golden Eagles hit MU pitching at a .434 clip, with 18 extra-base hits. USM had 12 doubles, a triple and five home runs to go with 17 walks against only nine strikeouts, out-scoring Marshall 35-9. Meanwhile, the Herd hit just three extra-base hits and stuckout 19 times, with just four walks.
Shortstop Brandon Casamassema was ejected for saying something to, then bumping umpire Chris Closkey, after striking out in the fourth inning on Saturday. Herd coach Jeff Waggoner was also tossed after he argued, also bumped the ump and tossed a trash can out in front of the dugout on his way to the locker room. Both coach and player were suspended for Sunday's game and will both sit out game one and two of the UAB series. Casamassima, who is hitting .295 for MU, leads the Herd with 35 RBI and has eight home runs.
Marshall left fielder Jeff Rowley leads the Herd with a .336 haverage this season. Photo from Marshall sports information.
After battling the Blazers, the Herd will play former Mid-American Conference rival Miami in a doubleheader for the final scheduled regular season games of the season at University Heights in Huntington. The RedHawks (26-18, 13-6 in MAC play) lost to Cincinnati this week, 7-2, and will play a three-game set in Athens, Ohio against the Bobcats of Ohio U. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday before making the 90-minute trip to Huntington.
Marshall left fielder Jeff Rowley had his team-best 16 game hitting-streak ended with an 0-for-2 Sunday against the Eagles. Rowley still leads the Herd with a .336 batting average. Freshman second baseman Josh Valle and junior catcher Tommy Johnson are next at .314 while senior first baseman Brit Vincent is hitting .302. Freshman center fielder Mason Chapman is hitting .299 in his first season. Senior designated hitter Brendan Murphy leads the team with 11 doubles and nine homers, while adding 26 RBI. 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 and his earned run average is 5.60. Senior Jeremy Sloan is 3-3 on the year and 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. 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.
Saturday is Marshall Alumni Day, sponsored by the Greater Kanawha Valley Marshall Alumni Club. Herd fans can buy a $20 ticket which gives them a box seat for the Noon start between MU-UAB, then a picnic with the Herd at the APP after the game. The ticket then is also good for that night's game as the West Virginia Power will host the Greensboro (N.C.) Grasshoppers in South Atlantic League play on "Charleston Charlies Cap Night." The Power have the best record in the SAL and are a single A farm club of the National League Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers. On Sunday, Marshall will honor its seniors before the 10:30 a.m. finale with the Blazers. MU baseball at Appalachian Power Park and the WV Power are both heard on AM 930, WRVC. However, Friday night, the Power will finish its series at the Hagerstown (Md.) Suns and will be heard on WCMI 1340 AM, due to MU baseball on WRVC at the same time.