The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 7, 2014

FAU hammers Thundering Herd in finalé

Owls bang out season-high 21 hits in 17-3 victory

By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor

BECKLEY — Marshall won the series, but it didn’t look like it Sunday.

Handcuffed by Thundering Herd pitching in the first two games, Florida Atlantic took out its frustration in the finalé. The Owls set a season high for hits in a game and beat Marshall 17-3 to emphatically salvage the last game of the series.

After allowing just two earned runs combined in the first two games, Marshall (11-18 overall, 7-7 Conference USA) emptied its bullpen Sunday. Head coach Jeff Waggoner used nine pitchers who gave up 21 hits. It got so bad that designated hitter Chase Vogelbach was warming up for part of the ninth inning.

The 17 runs were more than FAU had scored in its previous 10 Conference USA games combined.

Clint Wilson (1-1), who got the win in the opener, took the loss Sunday. The former West Virginia Miner pitched one inning and filled his stat line with twos — two runs, two hits, two strikeouts, two walks.

Right-hander Josh King was scheduled to start for the Herd but was a late scratch because of a lingering injury.

“Other guys are going to have to come out and step up (in King’s absence),” Waggoner said. “We don’t know (how much longer King will be out). We’re going to have him throw this week, take our time with him, get him back. We’re taking it one day at a time.”

Alex Thackston got the call in place of King and had a short day.

A left-hander making his 10th appearance of the season but just his second start, Thackston lasted only 1 1-3 innings, giving up two runs and four hits. He had no strikeouts and did not walk a batter.

The Owls’ first three hitters each made seven plate appearances — Stephen Kerr and Brendon Sanger were both 3 for 6, but Tyler Rocklein concluded a series to forget with an 0 for 7 day that included three strikeouts.

Esteban Puerta was 3 for 4 including a solo home run in the fourth.

The game was largely impacted by players who don’t often see the field.

Jose Bonilla Traverso, a .190 hitter who had 21 at-bats on the year going in, had run-scoring singles in the second and third innings. Traverso started in center field in place of Billy Endris, who struggled in Saturday’s 7-3 Marshall win, including a three-base error in the Herd’s five-run eighth.

Brad Myott made his college debut in the second inning after a brief scuffle that led to two ejections. FAU starter Drew Jackson’s first pitch to Aaron Bossi was high and inside. Bossi appeared to stare at Jackson, and starting catcher Kevin Abraham confronted Bossi. Bossi shoved Abraham, the Marshall dugout cleared and both players were ejected by home plate umpire Joseph Smith.

The Owls (17-14, 5-10) were already without their regular starting catcher Levi Meyer, who is injured and did not make the trip from Boca Raton. So Myott, the bullpen catcher, was forced to shed his redshirt.

It was a nice debut for Myott, who walked three times in five plate appearances. The first loaded the bases with one out in the third, and FAU proceeded to score three runs for a 5-2 lead. He also moved C.J. Chatham over to third on a groundout in the sixth, and Chatham scored on Robbie Buckley’s single past a diving Johnathan Beary at third.

Beary pinch hit for Bossi and stayed in the game after Bossi was ejected.

Waggoner said he expects Bossi and Abraham to be hit with significant suspensions by the league office.

“A push is considered a fight, and both players are probably suspended for four games,” Waggoner said. “It’s something we will go over with the conference and they will make a decision this week.”

Jackson (4-0) picked up the win after lasting six innings. He gave up six hits and three earned runs, struck out five and walked one.

Marshall will return to action Tuesday, hosting Eastern Kentucky at 3 p.m. at the YMCA Kennedy Center in Huntington. The Colonels defeated the Herd 4-1 last Wednesday in Richmond, Ky.

“The good thing about it is we get a chance to come out and play on Tuesday and get right back at it,” Waggoner said.

— E-mail: gfauber@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @GaryFauber.