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Herd blanks Manhattan to christens new Jack Cook Field

Mar. 1—By CODY LINN

Marshall Athletics

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The Marshall University Baseball team (2-7) opened Jack Cook Field with a thrilling game on the landmark day for the university and athletic department in front of 3,124 fans on Friday afternoon.

In the inaugural contest at the first on-campus baseball field, The Herd shutout, 3-0, the Manhattan Jaspers (3-4).

"A lot of work has gone into getting to March 1 and having this ballpark ready for the opener," Herd baseball head coach Greg Beals said after the win. "Coach all along was worried about making sure the ballclub was ready and our guys certainly responded today.

"We pitched the ball well and played great defense. Then we got some big hits. Obviously, the leadoff home run set the tempo for the ballclub. The crowd was ready to go and that lit them up pretty good."

After Drew Harlow faced the minimum, ending the top of the first with a double play, Tre Hondras stepped to the plate. On the first pitch to the first MU batter at The Jack, Hondras set the crowd into a roar with a solo homer, his first of the season, to left for the first hit and long ball at the brand-new ballpark.

"I can't put it into any words," Hondras said after his historic at bat to open the stadium. "I totally blacked out on the bases. I pumped the crowd up. I didn't mean to do that. That's not normal at a baseball game, but today it felt like it was. It felt like it was the moment to do something like that."

The early home run set the tone for Marshall, which carried the momentum throughout the game.

Drew Harlow, who picked up his second victory of the season, hurled 6.0 scoreless frames in his third start of the season. The senior allowed just five base runners, three hits and two walks, while striking out three of his 21 batters faced.

"He threw a bunch of strikes. He was able to pound the strike zone with his fastball working ahead in counts," Beals said of Harlow's performance.

"He used his curveball and changeup just enough to allow the fastball to continue to win. He did a great job. Weyrich came in and got eight strikeouts. I didn't like how many pitches it took. He went deep into a lot of counts, but he made big pitches when he needed to."

Out the bullpen, Nicholas Weyrich closed out the game with a strong 3.0 outing. The junior righty struck out eight, including the side in the top of the ninth, as he earned first save of the season. Weyrich has thrown 8.2 scoreless frames to start the season out of the bullpen.

After the Herd loaded the bases in the bottom of the third, Calin Smith brought home Owen Ayers with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0 with his seventh RBI of the season.

Ayers then joined the party with a solo home run over the right-center wall to lead off the bottom of the seventh on a 2-1 offering to make it 3-0.

Ayers and Hondras each had a multi-hit game in the home opener, with Ayers having two extra-base hits with a double in the top of the first.

UP NEXT

Marshall continues its series against Manhattan on Saturday at Jack Cook Field. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.

To donate to the Championship Fund for Marshall baseball, go to HERDZONE.com All proceeds go directly to the Marshall baseball team.

Par Mar is the presenting sponsor of the 2024 Marshall baseball team. Par Mar is the official convenient store of Marshall Athletics.