April 5, 2012

Baseball readies for a home stretch

It's not quite home, but it's as close as the Marshall baseball team has been in 2012.

This weekend the Herd kicks off the "home" portion of the C-USA season this weekend at Charleston's Appalachian Power Park against Memphis. Friday and Saturday games are set for 7:05, with a 1 p.m. Easter Sunday first pitch.

Marshall (11-16, 1-2) broke a five-game losing streak with a wild, 12-10, come-from-behind victory over Liberty at Beckley's Linda Epling Stadium Sunday.

Alfredo Brito is showing signs of living up to the potential the left-handed hitter had shown flashes of throughout his career. Brito is now hitting .344 with three homers and 18 RBI. Meanwhile Nathan Gomez has a team high 27 RBI and a .324 average. Isaac Ballou is hitting .305 with two triples.

The trio of left-handed bats have failed to have much help from their right handed hitting teammates. Sergio Leon, a freshman, has stepped up to hit .293 in 15 starts on the infield.

Thor Meeks, the powerful Herd catcher, is hitting under .230 and has just two homers. The Hurricane native was 2-for-3 against Liberty with a homer, double and three runs batted in. Meeks ability to carry that over into a strong weekend performance will be important for Marshall.

On the mound, Mike Mason and Aaron Blair have been the main weekend starters. Mason is 3-3 with a 3.64 ERA, while Blair is 1-4 with a 4.43 earned run average. Sophomore Josh King has a 2.08 ERA in 21 2/3 innings pitched.

Meanwhile Memphis will come to the Mountain State with a 12-17 record, but is just 2-7 away from home. The Tigers are 2-4 in league play. Adam McClain is hitting .405 with a pair of homers and 19 RBI. Jacob Wilson has a team high 31 runs batted in. Sam Moll (2-3, 2.72 ERA) and Dan Langfield (4-3, 3.18 ERA) are the main pitchers for Memphis.

How good is Conference USA this season

Four of the nine teams in the league have already reached 20 wins. UCF leads the league at 24-6 and a 5-1 league mark. East Carolina is 20-8, while Rice is 21-10. Each team is 4-2 in league play. Tulane is 20-8 overall and 2-1 in league play.

Conference USA is rated the fifth best conference in the country. The ACC, SEC, PAC 12 and West Coast are all ranked higher. Interesting, the Big 12 is one slot below C-USA in the conference RPI. Brings to question why the state legislature is bending over backward to accommodate a baseball team in that league, while the team in the superior league hasn't played within two-hours of its own campus this season.

Ryan Epling is an analyst with Herd Nation. Comments and questions are welcomed and encouraged on the Old Fairfield forum.

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