April 12, 2015
BECKLEY, W.Va. -- A few clutch hitting performances Â from the Marshall offense and tremendous play from the defense delivered Herd baseball (11-23, 4-11 C-USA) its first league series win, after a Sunday 8-6 victory over Charlotte (13-16, 7-11 C-USA) in the rubber match at Epling Stadium.
Marshall grabbed the Friday night win 5-1 and dropped Saturday's contest 5-4 before taking the series.
Senior TJ Diffenderfer (Mount Juliet, Tenn.) continued his hot bat, pulling in four RBI in a 2-for-4 day with a triple and double. Classmate Josh King (Troup, Ga.) also collected two hits with a run, while junior DJ Gee (Seattle) and sophomore Corey Bird (Pinch, W.Va.) each scored twice in the contest. Freshman Tyler Ratliff (Alexandria, Va.) raked his second career home run during the game.
Senior Matt Margaritonda (Freehold, N.J.) collected his second save in as many appearances after taking over in the ninth.
Marshall began the game with the lead, scoring its first run in the bottom of the first. Bird led off with a single, took second on a balk, and then back-to-back groundouts brought him home.
The Herd then increased its lead in the third, after catcher Matt Reed (Purcellville, Va.) boarded on a walk, stole second, and then a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly allowed him to score.
The 49ers then fired back in the fifth, getting on the board after a walk, fielder's choice, and single up the middle got the first Charlotte run. With two men on, the next batter smacked a home run over the left center wall to put the Niners up 4-2.
The Herd replied with a run in the sixth to narrow the lead to 4-3. Gee reached on a fielder's choice and stole second as Diffenderfer stepped to the plate. He connected with a hit that soared to left field, bounced off the wall, and back into play for his first triple of the season.
The momentum turned in the seventh, after a spectacular diving catch in left field from Leon. Still trailing by one, King led off the inning with a single and came home after Ratliff cracked his homer and gave Marshall its second lead of the game at 5-4. The Herd tacked on three more runs in the inning; Bird was hit-by-pitch, Leon reached on a fielder's choice, and Gee was walked to put three on as Diffenderfer connected clutch again, this time with for a three RBI double.
The 49ers kept it interesting, rallying with two runs in the ninth to narrow the Herd lead to 8-6 before Margaritonda entered and closed the deal.
Marshall will be back in action Tuesday, traveling to face former Mid-American Conference foe Akron at 3 p.m.
Link to Coach Waggoner's post-game interview
TJ Diffenderfer, Sr., First Baseman
"It was a great team win. We had guys step up in big situations when we needed them too. Taking two-of-three is great to get us back on track for where this team is headed. I was just able to get pitches up and put good swings on them. The guys in front of me did a good job getting on base so I could have opportunities to get them home."
Sergio Leon, Sr., Shortstop
"Our defense played very well today. We started a little slow, but it definitely picked up later in the game when it counted. We made plays when we had to. The double play that we turned in the last inning definitely put the `nail in the coffin'. Pitchers were just pitching to contact, which kept us on our toes. Overall, it was a great team win from beginning to end. This was a big series win for us, and we're just going to keep rolling from here on out."