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On April 7, 2013

The time was four hours and eighteen minutes, and well past 6 p.m. before the Marshall University baseball team finished its opening game against no. 19 Houston. There were a combined 32 runs scored and 39 hits produced in the game, but the victory ended up in the gloves of the Herd.

Marshall rallied from a 13-4 deficit and scored six times in the fourth and seven times in the fifth to defeat the Cougars 19-13.

Leon went 2-5 during the opening game, launching a three run homer to right field during the fourth inning offensive explosion and two run RBI double during the fifth.

Isaac Ballou, Gray Stafford and Eric Escobedo all went 3-6 with a double, and senior Nate Gomez belted his second homer of the season in a 2-4 performance. Junior catcher John Beary entered the game as a pinch hitter and went 2-3 with a double as he stayed in as battery mate.

Freshman Chase Boster started on the mound Friday and allowed nine runs before exiting the game. Fellow freshman Sam Hunter relieved him and allowed three Cougars to score without getting anyone out. Sophomore Kolin Stanley replaced Hunter, and despite giving up two earned runs in the fourth, set the order down in the fifth and earned his first win of the season. Stanley went two and two thirds innings.

“My mindset was to just keep us in the game; give us a chance to chip away at their lead,” Stanley said. “After that big seven run inning, I wanted to go out the next inning and put a zero up.”

Decked out Saturday in hot pink jerseys in honor of breast cancer awareness, the Thundering Herd carried momentum into game two of the series. Staff ace Aaron Blair went a season high eight innings as he fanned 11 batters in a 4-0 shutout. It was only the second time Houston had been shut out this season.

The Herd entered the eighth inning clinging to a one run advantage, but RBI hits by Gomez, Stafford and sophomore Andrew Dundon gave reliever Josh King extra run support as he pitched a perfect ninth inning.

Marshall entered Sunday’s game with the possibility of being first in Conference USA rankings if they pulled off the sweep. The Herd played three innings of scoreless baseball and kept the Cougars off the board for seventeen consecutive innings before Houston’s Justin Montemayor hit a three run bomb off of Marshall starter Michael Taylor.

The bats that had been so present Friday disappeared Sunday, as the Herd was held to eight hits in the loss. The Herd left ten runners stranded throughout the day.

Houston remains tied with Rice at the top of C-USA, with a 6-3 conference record, while Marshall’s 3-3 conference performance thus far has them ranked fifth.

“I think it really boosted our team’s confidence and beating a team at the top of the conference,” Stanley said of the series win. “It was big for us to get two wins in conference play. It really proved to us that we can play with anybody.”

The Herd will have a midweek showdown Wednesday against the Ohio State Buckeyes (19-10). Interestingly enough, Ohio State faces West Virginia, Tuesday, before taking on the Herd.

Caitie Smith can be contacted at

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