GREENSBORO – North Carolina A&T senior right-hander Tyler Boone was cruising through his outing against Marshall Friday night. He was holding the Herd hitless through five innings while striking out six.
But before he gave up his first hit, Boone ran into trouble. Large enough trouble to where the Herd was able to win Game 1 of three-game weekend series to be played at War Memorial Stadium, 6-2, thanks to the troubled sixth inning.
“It was a great pitcher’s duel there for a while there,” said A&T head coach Joel Sanchez. “We just couldn’t muster anything up at the plate. It’s tough to manufacture runs when you’re not getting guys on base.”
All-American Luke Tendler’s two-run homer to right field in the eighth inning accounted for the Aggies two runs. Cameron Jergens had a two-hit night. But the Aggies were able to only get three in the six innings Marshall starter Josh King pitched.
Over the first five innings, however, Boone was even better. Going into the sixth, not only was Marshall without a run, the Herd also had no hits. Things started to turn sour for Boone when he walked Sergio Leon after battling him to a 3-2 count. The problems started to multiply when Boone hit the next Marshall batter, Corey Bird with an 0-1 pitch.
The next play was even more unfortunate for a pitcher pitching so well. Chase Vogelbach laid down a bunt to the third-base side. Boone rushed off the mound a scooped the slow rolling groundball. Boone decided to try to throw out Leon going to third instead of Vogelbach going to first. Leon beat the throw, loading the bases for the Herd.
As the Herd was gaining momentum, it got a boost from a balk call by the first base umpire. Leon scored on the balk call to give Marshall the 1-0 lead. Andrew Dundon followed with an RBI sacrifice fly to right field that scored Bird. Boone was down 2-0 before he gave up his first hit.
“The balk kind of change the game a little bit,” said Sanchez. “They were rolling pretty good – and not to blame anyone – but the call gave them even more energy.”
Eric Escobedo picked up the Herd’s first hit with an RBI single to left field. Cory Garrastazu followed with another single, moving Escobedo to third. TJ Diffenderfer closed out the scoring in the inning with an RBI sac fly to center to put the Herd ahead 4-0.
Marshall added a run in the seventh and the eighth before Tendler’s home run broke up the shutout. Boone (0-1) threw 108 pitches, pitched seven innings, walked three and struck out seven in his second start of the season. His counterpart King (1-0) threw six scoreless innings, gave up three hits and recorded six strikeouts. Leon led the Herd offensively by going 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
“It was a good game for the most part,” said Sanchez. “We did try to come back with Tendler’s two-run dinger. We just couldn’t string any hits together. But we’ll be back at it tomorrow and hopefully we can get some guys on base.”