BILOXI, Miss. (Conference USA) - It took a while - a good, long while, actually - but in the end, Marshall was able to pocket a postseason baseball victory that seemed ready to slip away.
First baseman Shane Hanon slipped a two-out, two-run single up the middle to give the Thundering Herd a 6-4 victory in 12 innings Wednesday afternoon over Louisiana Tech in the opening game of The First 2019 C-USA Baseball Championship presented by Air Force Reserve at MGM Park.
At 4 hours, 49 minutes, it was the longest game in C-USA postseason baseball history, topping a 4-hour, 43-minute, game during the 2011 postseason.
“It was an all-around team effort,” Marshall coach Jeff Waggoner said. “(Third baseman) Raul (Cabrera) made a play; Elvis made a great play. We got a big hit from Shane. Overall, everyone stepped up and did their job.”
The sixth-seeded Herd (29-26) stays in the winner’s bracket, moving on to face the Southern Miss-Rice winner at 4 p.m. Thursday.
The third-seeded Bulldogs (34-23), which lost a conference baseball opener for a fourth consecutive season, fell into the elimination bracket and will take on the Southern Miss-Rice loser at 9 a.m. Thursday.
“Thought our bullpen was good,” Tech coach Lane Burroughs said. “(It) kept us in the game.”
Marshall got to Tech starter Matt Miller for a 3-0 lead after two innings. The Herd scored an unearned run in the first inning on three walks and an error, then went up by three runs on Geordon Blanton’s double and a sacrifice fly by Hanon in the second.
Tech got within 3-1 on Hunter Wells’ run-scoring single in the third inning before Marshall pushed the lead back to three runs on Elvis Peralta’s double.
But Mason Robinson’s double highlighted a two-run eighth inning by the Bulldogs and Tech tied the score on a hit batsman and three walks.
Peralta likely saved the game for Marshall in the bottom of the 11th inning when he stepped forward to snare a hot, one-hopper at shortstop with a Bulldog on second.
In the top of the 12th, Marshall had men on first and second with two outs when Hanon shot a grounder through the mound past Louisiana Tech closer Braxton Smith (1-4) and into center field, scoring Blanton and Erik Rodriguez.
Phillip Hoffman picked up his first save of the season by getting the Bulldogs 1-2-3 in the 12th. Robert Kwiatkowski (2-3) got the win with a scoreless 11th inning.
The teams combined to use 11 pitchers, who wound up combining on 15 walks and two hit batsmen. The teams also combined to strand 25 baserunners, 16 by Marshall.
Hanon drove in three runs and scored twice while Peralta picked up four hits, including a double. Blanton had two singles.