Sports

Marshall silences bats in weekend sweep of baseball

Bears lose 17-inning contest to start weekend, muster just four runs total in four games

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, March 14, 2016

The Bears lost momentum this weekend, losing each match in their four game series against Marshall University. The series of defeats came after a seemingly promising start to the season last week, when the Bears came out victorious against rival Bucknell in a 2-0 shutout.

After a promising start to the season a week ago, the baseball team went winless in a four game series at Marshall over the weekend.

The Bears (1-6) have not claimed a win since their 2-0 victory over Bucknell on opening day last Friday, largely due to offensive struggles that hurt the team in key situations against the Thundering Herd (8-6). 

Marshall 3, Brown 2 (17 innings)

The first contest would set the tone for a series defined by pitching. Christian Taugner ’17 got the start for Brown and dominated for the second straight week.

Jake Rosander ’19 started the third inning with a single and scored later in the frame after two wild pitches to put the Bears in front.

Taugner baffled Marshall hitters early, allowing just one hit and walking none over the first six innings. The Bears would add to their lead in the top of the seventh, courtesy of a solo home run from Sam Grigo ’18, the team’s first of the season. But Marshall countered with power hitting of its own to tie the game with a two-run home run from Tommy Lane in the bottom of the inning.

Taugner finished his day after getting out of the inning, coming out of the game having given up just three hits and no walks on only 98 pitches.

The pitcher’s duel continued as the contest went deep into extra innings. Dante Bosnic ’18 and Bobby Leyman ’19 held Marshall hitless for eight straight innings starting in the eighth. Brown squandered several chances in extras, including leaving the winning run in scoring position in the 10th and 16th innings.

Marshall finally broke the deadlock with a walk-off single from Sam Finfer off JJ Sliepka ’19, who took the loss, in the 17th. The winning hit was just the fifth of the entire game for the Thundering Herd, compared to 11 for Brown.

Head Coach Grant Achilles said the bullpen stepped up to soften the blow that a long game could inflict on a pitching staff.

“It changed our game plan a little bit for the next couple of days,” he said. “Anytime you have your opening game essentially become a double header, that really does extend out some pitchers.”

Marshall 7, Brown 2

The teams were scheduled to play a doubleheader Friday but agreed to push it back to Saturday after the 17-inning marathon.

Reid Anderson ’18 made his second start of the year for the Bears in the series’ second game. Marshall wasted no time against Anderson, turning two hits and three stolen bases into a 2-0 lead after the first inning.

Marshall chased Anderson from the game after two-run innings in the third and fifth put it up 6-0.

The lone bright spot offensively for Bruno was a two-run home run from Rob Henry ’17 in the bottom of the sixth. But thanks to Marshall starter JD Hammer, the game never got any closer than that. Hammer turned in a stellar complete-game performance, surrendering just four hits and needing just 97 pitches in nine innings to shut Bruno down.

Anderson was charged with the loss, his first of the year after a no decision last week against Notre Dame.

Marshall 2, Brown 0

The second game of Saturday’s doubleheader turned out to be more of the same for the Bears.

Austin French ’16 took the mound for his second start of the season. Once again, the two starters stymied opposing hitters all game. The score remained at 0-0 until the bottom of the fourth, when Lane unloaded his second home run of the weekend with a runner on first.

That would prove to be the only blemish for French on the day. The senior came out after seven innings in which he gave up six hits and struck out six. The game was almost identical to French’s start last week against Alabama, which the Bears also lost 2-0 due to poor run support. Bruno struggled so much at the plate that a base runner reached scoring position only twice in the game.

Three different Marshall pitchers combined for the shutout and held Brown to six hits.

Marshall 14, Brown 0 (7 innings)

The series finale Sunday got out of hand quickly for Brown, as the poor hitting from previous games coincided with a rough outing for Brown starter Max Ritchie ’17.

After a three-run first inning, Marshall poured on seven more in the second, all off Ritchie.

The Thundering Herd scored in almost every way possible: off a Brown error, three singles, a bases loaded-walk and a two-run wild pitch. 

At the plate, Brown continued to struggle to string hits together and get runners in scoring position. Robbie Stephens ’19 and Bosnic each threw two innings of their own, both letting up two more runs to bring the deficit to 14.

The drubbing came to an end after the seventh inning because of rain, marking 19 straight innings without a run for Brown.

Despite the sweep, Achilles had mixed reactions to the team’s performance.

“We saw a lot of good things at times this weekend, especially from some of our younger arms that hadn’t had a chance to pitch in a college game yet,” he said. “We also saw areas where we’re really going to have to go to work.”

Brown travels to Florida next weekend to take on Central Florida and Bradley.

Achilles said he will continue to preach consistency to his team going forward.

“Sometimes you’re going (to) meet the standard and still lose, but as long as we stay focused on controlling what we can, that’s really going to be the true test of who we are as a program,” Achilles said.

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