Jeff Montgomery pitched for Marshall from 1981-83, winning 16 games in three seasons. He helped the Herd to a Southern Conference championship in 1981, when he tied a MU record with four shutouts in that season. He pitched the first three innings of Saturday's game, allowing three runs but only one earned as his teammates were not quite as sharp as Montgomery in the early going. The alums committed three errors in the first inning when two unearned runs scored. Montgomery struck out one and walked one in the first appearance in green and white for him in 25 years.
"Obviously, it was a big thrill for our current players to face a guy who saved 300 games in the bigs," said Marshall head coach Jeff Waggoner. "It's something they'll talk about a long time, facing a Marshall legend and Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame member." Waggoner had some legendary company as coach of the Herd himself, with Jack Cook, who coached the Herd in 1955, then 1967-89 and won a school-best 422 games (in a single sport) as well as the coach he replaced, Dave Piepenbrink, who is second at MU baseball with 170 wins from 1998-2006.
The 2008-09 Herd huddles up with the Marshall Baseball Alumni after the first-ever Alumni-Varsity game as part of a baseball weekend including a game, a golf outing and tailgates Friday and Saturday. photo from MU SID
Piepenbrink, who retired to enter private business with State Farm, was impressed by the talent he saw in the Herd's dugout. "These guys all hit the ball, hard," said the former Herd third baseman (1987-90) who was All-Southern Conference in his playing days. "They have great players, and we were all so pleased with the run in the Conference USA Tournament last season."
The 2008 Herd won a school-record 30 games last season and finished as runners-up in the Conference USA Baseball Tournament in New Orleans in May. The Herd beat the home team, Tulane, twice and beat Southern Miss twice before falling to Houston, 3-2, on an unearned run in the eighth inning. For setting the record and the great run in the tournament, all players on last season's team received rings at the end of the Alumni-Varsity game between home plate and the pitcher's mound.
Waggoner was thrilled about the entire weekend. "We had 36 foursomes playing on Friday," said the third-year coach. Tying for first in the scramble were the team of John Chafin (MU baseball, 1985-88), Sam Nelson (1986-89), Rick Reed (1987) and Roger McIntyre (1988-91) and the team of Chandos Peak, Bob Grands, Mitch Bowers and Nathan Kinker.
"Then we had six members of the 1978 team to honor on Friday night." The players from the '78 squad, 27-14 on the season including wins over Clemson and Florida State in the NCAAs, were Randy Rosiek, David Sager, John Wilson, Jeep Lewis, Dave Ramella and Dave Helmer. "It's great to have all these former players reconnecting with our current team, and they can tell them about what it took for Marshall to get there then.
Three MU head coaches get together after the Herd's Alumni-Varsity game in current coach Jeff Waggoner (left), legendary Marshall coach Jack Cook (center) and former coach Dave Piepenbrink (right). Waggoner has won 51 games since 2007, Cook holds the all-time MU record with 422 wins in a single sport and Piepenbrink won 170 games before entering private business after the 2006 season. photo from MU SID
Back at the game Saturday, the alums eventually turned three double plays in the game, even though they fell 12-0. All were impressed by the current team, especially a high and deep home run to left-center field by freshman catcher Thor Meeks, who also doubled. For the "old" guys, Aaron Williams (1995-98) had two singles out of five hits for the alumni. Sean Reeder (1997-2000) pitched two innings, allowing four hits, one run and picking up two strikeouts. Nick Wolle (2003-07) pitched the eighth, and struck out one, walked one and included a double-play, while Dobies (2003-08) allowed two runs on three hits with a strikeout in the ninth.
Cook, who took the Herd to the NCAA Tournament in 1973 and 1978 and to SC titles in 1978 and 1981, and to a runner-up finish in his final year of 1989, was pleased with the turnout and the success of last year. "Jeff has got a real organized program here," said Cook, who was All-Ohio Valley Conference in 1949 at Marshall. "It was really good to see all those kids from the '78 team, that I hadn't seen in years. We had a good year and just ran out of pitching in the NCAA Tournament."
Cook was impressed also by last year's run in C-USA. "Conference USA is a good baseball conference. Rice and Houston are top 15 teams. We appreciate the job Jeff is doing and we hope to get him a ball field on campus." MU will play at the YMCA Kennedy Center at George Smailes Field, named for the long-standing director of the Y in Huntington. The field is about 15 minutes from downtown on Route 2 North, but is a very nice facility, and Waggoner even hinted he would not be opposed to playing all home games at the facility, instead of going to Charleston to play C-USA games.
Alumni who attended this weekend included:
Larry Verbage (1970-72), Matt Spade (1992-94), Aaron Rice (1981-84), Aaron Williams (1995-99), Tracy Brumfield (1991-92, the head coach at Cabell Midland H.S. locally and son of MU assistant, George Brumfield, a legendary head coach himself at nearby Wayne H.S.), Matt Helm (2005-08), Adam Dobies (2003-08), Chris Childers (1989-93), Sean Reeder (1997-2000), Tim Frantz (1996-98), C.R. Burgess (1973-76), David Colangelo (1998-2002), John Chafin (1986-88), Rick Reed (1985), Jeff Montgomery (1981-83), Chris Peak (2003-07), Sam Nelson (1987-89), Chris Hall (1985-89), Aaron Amburgy (1998-2002), Eric Pinkerton (1998-2000), Sean Fuelhart (1990), Nick Wolle (2003-07), Brad Helm (2003-05), Matt White (1999-2002), Mike Curry (1998-2002), Randy Rosiek (1975-78), David Sager (1978-81), John Wilson (1976-79), Glenn "Jeep" Lewis (1977-80), Dave Ramella (1976-79), Dave Helmer (1975-78) and Joe Glevenyak (2003-06).