Marshall coach pulling bait-and-switch with DH
CHARLEST0N -- What Ohio State baseball coach Greg Beals and the umpires see when they exchange lineup cards with Marshall coach Jeff Waggoner on Wednesday night doesn't mean that's what they'll get when it's time for the Thundering Herd's designated hitter to come to bat.
Waggoner has been concerned about recent production from the DH spot. To stir things up a bit, he did something unusual, at least for him, with the lineup card in the weekend Conference USA series against Houston at Appalachian Power Park. The card he presented to the umpires and Cougars coach Todd Whitting at home plate featured an unusual twist. Names of pitchers got penciled in.
Aaron Blair, who would toss a two-hitter over eight innings in Saturday's 4-0 win, was listed as DH on Friday when the Thundering Herd rallied from a 13-4 deficit to stun the No. 21 Cougars, 19-13. Chase Boster, the Friday starter, had the DH honor Saturday. On Sunday, Waggoner's pick was relief pitcher Matt Margaritonda.
None of them, though, would step into the batter's box. When it was their turn to hit, Waggoner studied the situation and inserted a pinch hitter. Thoughts were go deep, advance runners or make Houston pitchers work. Three different players got the call Friday. Alfredo Brito went up Saturday and Chase Vogelbach got the call Sunday. They combined for two hits in nine at-bats.
"It comes down to guys stepping up," Waggoner said. "If we don't have a guy in that position that steps up, then I've got to go situationally. I haven't done it before, but I've seen big league teams do it, especially the Red Sox a few years ago, and they did a lot of defensive replacements, too.
"It's different in college baseball, different than having a guy to DH who's paid to hit 30 home runs."
Game time for Marshall (13-18) and Ohio State is 6:35 p.m. at Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium. Beals and the Buckeyes will have to wait to see who gets the DH role.
"It's something I'll have to get a feel for as the week goes on," Waggoner said. "Maybe I'll do it midweek (at Ohio State) and then get a little better feel and then decide on the weekend."
On Friday, Blair took the move seriously. He saw his name listed in the sixth spot on the lineup card in the dugout so it was time to put on the batting glove for some BP.
"The hitters knew because I told them all to be ready," Waggoner said. "But the only one surprised was Aaron. He wanted to take BP, so I had to tell him. That was the best part of it. I guess he was a little confused. We'll see if we get some consistent play out of a few guys before I go back to a DH."
Ohio State (19-10) holds a 17-2 edge over the Herd in this series. The Herd is 2-2 against the Buckeyes under Waggoner. In each victory, Marshall scored 14 or more runs and held them to three or less.
Ohio State, which met West Virginia at home Tuesday night, is coming off a wild weekend Big 10 series at Minnesota where it went 1-2.
The series opener was Friday, but didn't finish until Saturday thanks to a 20-hour snow delay. The teams got in five innings before play was halted with the Gophers ahead, 3-0. When play resumed Saturday, Minnesota went on to a 7-0 victory.
After another delay because of the threat of rain, Ohio State and Minnesota started the middle game of the series only for it to get suspended with the Buckeyes up 5-1 in the top of the fourth inning. Play picked back up Sunday and Ohio State won, 5-2. Minnesota prevailed in the finale, 1-0.
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