Herd Baseball Goes 1-1-1 At Tulane

Marshall baseball has placed itself into the middle of the Conference USA race with a first-ever win and a tie at Tulane over the weekend. Marshall lost Friday in the ninth, 6-5, won Saturday 7-4 then rallied in the ninth to tie game three 5-5 and held on for the tie when C-USA travel rules prevented any inning from starting after 4:15 p.m. due to the Herd's early flight back.

Marshall had been 0-8 all-time with the Green Wave before Saturday's win and Sunday's tie. The Herd now finds itself in the midst of the Conference USA race in baseball race at 4-4-1 in league play, 14-14-1 overall this season. Houston leads the league (5-1, 19-10) after sweeping No. 25 UCF, 14-7, 10-1 and 5-3. Rice, who swept Memphis and earlier swept the Herd in Charleston at Appalachian Power Park, is 7-2 in league, 23-10 overall. Tulane falls to 3-2-1 and is 21-9-1 overall and it in third, while No. 20 East Carolina and Southern Miss are both 5-4 in league play. The Herd will travel to Greenville, N.C. this weekend to play the Pirates, 21-9 overall, while No. 20-ranked Southern Miss is off in C-USA this coming weekend after taking two of three from ECU this past weekend with a 6-5 win in 13 innings, then losing 4-2 in the second game Saturday. The Pirates took Sunday's game, 11-3, over the Golden Eagles.

Marshall is in fifth at 4-4-1. The Herd is followed by two teams who play this weekend. Memphis (3-6 C-USA, and 11-19 overall) will travel to No. 25 UCF (2-7, 22-11) for three this weekend. UAB is 1-5, 12-17 overall, and will travel to Rice this weekend while Houston will host Tulane for three.

Out of conference, Marshall will travel to Morehead State for the second time in a week on Tuesday at 3 p.m. when the Herd and the Eagles hook up for the 127th time in the "I-64 Series" between the two schools only one hour apart on Interstate 64. The Eagles won last week, 6-3, and MU is forced to play at Morehead, Kentucky again due to the YMCA Kennedy Center Field the Herd was to use for home non-conference games is still not ready to be played upon due to construction to move fences back and wet conditions through the spring. Morehead State leads the all-time series with Marshall, 66-57-3 in a series that began in 1926 when both programs were playing in the one-year old West Virginia Athletic Conference, today's NCAA D-II WVIAC.

The Herd, 6-5 at home and 7-7-1 away from home (1-2 at Coastal Carolina on a neutral field) is led by junior outfielder Nate Lape, who is hitting .422 with 11 home runs and 35 runs batted in. Freshman designated hitter Victor Gomez is hitting .333 with two doubles, three triples and three homers and 12 RBI. Senior catcher Tommy Johnson is at .322, with six doubles and four home runs with 22 RBI, while sophomore Josh Valle is at .318 and is second on the team with 23 runs batted in including two to tie game three at Tulane in the ninth inning. Marshall is hitting .294 compared to .251 for the Herd's opponents who are hitting .251 on the season.

Pitching wise, Steve Blevins is 4-2 after winning Saturday with a career-best 12 strikeouts for the junior from nearby Louisa, Ky., who transferred back to MU from Cincinnati. He leads the staff with 33 strikeouts. Andrew Blain, a senior from Huntington and Spring Valley H.S., leads the starters with a 3.06 earned run average and is 2-2 with 21 Ks. Dan Straily, a transfer from Western Oregon University, is 3-2 with a 5.11 ERA and 31 strikeouts. Out of the bullpen, freshman Arik Sikula has a 1-2 mark with a team low ERA of 2.11, among pitchers with three or more appearances. He leads the staff with three saves and 14 appearances, and held the tie on Sunday at Tulane. Also with 1-1 marks are Andrew Hancock (4.5 ERA), Ryan Kiel (5.40), Ian Kadish (5.94) and Justin Moore. The Herd's team ERA is 5.05, compared to 5.29 for their opponents.


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