After walking the first two Mountaineer batters of the game and hitting the third, Blair, the ace of the Marshall staff, was in a bind. However, he proceeded to strike out the next three WVU hitters he faced, giving the Herd a huge boost of momentum. Over the next five innings, Blair struck out eight more Mountaineers and was never threatened, allowing the Huntingtonites to post an 8-0 victory.
"It's hard to give a team momentum before it gets to the plate, but we found a way to do that," WVU head coach Randy Mazey said of Blair's first inning recovery. "They came flying off the field with a lot of energy."
West Virginia could not manage a hit off Blair, who likely would have had a good shot at a no-hitter had he been allowed to pitch the entire game. Working under a pitch count, however, he departed after six innings in which he threw 105 times.
West Virginia didn't manage a hit until the eighth, when a Bobby Boyd scratch infield single against reliever Josh King allowed them to break up the no-no. Billy Fleming had a double in the ninth to account for WVU's only other knock in the contest.
In addition to failing to convert two scoring chances in the first two innings, West Virginia also gave Blair all the support he needed with a pair of throwing errors in the first two frames, allowing three runs to score. Marshall added three more in the third to take a commanding 6-0 lead that was more than enough for the win.
In all, WVU burned through six pitchers in the game, with none lasting more than two innings. Starter Zach Bargeron took the loss, yielding three runs in the first two innings before departing with none out in the bottom of the second.
After a long meeting with his team in left field following the game, Mazey credited Marshall's energy and motivation to beat WVU, along with Blair's outstanding performance, for the win. He noted that he continues to focus on the process of building a team, and that is where he wants the attention of his team to lie. While he didn't say so, however, he clearly couldn't have been happy with this performance, which included two errors (leading to two unearned runs), four walks, two hit batsmen, and a lack of clutch hitting. Despite getting just those two hits, WVU somehow managed to strand ten runners over the nine inning contest.
The Mountaineers return to Appalachian Power Park this weekend, taking on Big 12 opponent Texas Tech in single games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Game One begins at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Game Two begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday and Game Three is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday.