By Cam Huffman
The last time Marshall University and West Virginia University met on the baseball diamond, it didn’t exactly live up to the hype — at least from a competition standpoint.
That March 19 matchup at Charleston’s Appalachian Power Park — the first meeting between the two schools inside the state’s borders in 15 years — was dominated by the Thundering Herd and ace Aaron Blair, who threw six no-hit innings and struck out 11 WVU batters as Marshall cruised to an 8-0 thumping.
That frigid night at the home of the West Virginia Power, though, may have been a wake-up call for the Mountaineers. Since that loss, WVU has won seven of eight games. It took a pair in a three-game set with Big 12 power Texas Tech, won on the road at Eastern Kentucky and then swept a four-game series against New Orleans at Hawley Field in Morgantown over the weekend.
Now 15-13 overall and in the midst of a six-game winning streak, WVU will be looking for revenge when it welcomes its in-state rival to Hawley Field for a 6 p.m. matchup.
It will be “Dollar Night” in Morgantown, with tickets, hot dogs, popcorn and Cokes all available for $1.
“They beat us pretty good when we saw them down in Charleston the first time,” said WVU first-year head coach Randy Mazey, who will send senior right-hander Dan Diefdorff (1-3, 4.94 ERA) to the mound. “So this is a big game for us.
“This is our first winning streak of the year, and it would be great to take that back into the Big 12.”
While WVU is hoping to even up the series to give itself a shot at winning it when the teams meet at Beckley’s Linda K. Epling Stadium on May 14, Marshall (11-15) is looking to put the series in its pocket and guarantee itself Mountain State bragging rights with a win in enemy territory. The Herd will send freshman southpaw Alex Thackston (0-1, 3.86 ERA) to the hill, looking to again keep the WVU offense quiet.
That won’t be an easy assignment against a WVU team that has been pounding the baseball in recent games. Junior first baseman Ryan McBroom hit three homers and drove in six runs last week, hitting .400 during that stretch. Junior catcher Alan Filauro was 8-for-15 during that same stretch, while junior left fielder Jacob Rice leads the team with a .391 average for the season.
Marshall has some offense, as well, led by sophomore infielder Andrew Dundon, who’s hitting .333 with 13 RBIs, and outfielder Isaac Ballou, who’s hitting .296 with eight doubles and nine RBIs.
WVU holds a 38-22 advantage in the all-time series and has won 14 of the last 17 meetings against MU.
— E-mail: chuffman@
register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH