CHARLESTON – The milestone becomes easier and easier to lock in with every passing season.
Charleston baseball, in one way or another, will find its way to 20 wins with Derrick Landrus at the helm. It’s a near guarantee at this point from a program that has proven itself to be as consistent as rainouts throwing wrenches into a perfectly planned spring sports schedule.
“That shows what kind of team you have,” Landrus said. “It takes pitching depth, it takes everybody contributing.”
Wednesday, Charleston (20-8) hit the mark for the 13th time in Landrus’ 15 seasons. It came in the form of a 13-1 five-inning win over Marshall that showcased their power and speed. The Trojans took extra bases in some frames and drove the ball in others. They needed only 11 hits to score 13 runs.
“We have a lot of good hitters,” Landrus said. “Maybe not everybody does stand out, but they’ve all done it and they can all hit enough for us to be successful.”
A six-run fourth inning was more a lesson in aggressiveness on the bases and patience at the plate than it was an outpouring of hits. The Trojans drew three walks to open the frame, then Brayden Doyle was hit by a pitch to bring home a run. Charleston scored twice more on a passed ball and a wild pitch, respectively. Ty Coartney plated a run with a single, and two more runs scored on an error when Ben Hess’ chopper slipped under Marshall’s shortstop’s glove.
The Trojans’ first big inning – a four-run second – featured some hacks.
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Dayton Simpson and Coartney, the latter in his second start of the year, began the second inning with back-to-back home runs by punishing drives over the left-center field wall. Zach Finley and Keagan Brady followed with RBI single each. When it ended, the Trojans had a 5-1 lead that felt comfortable with Zach Hill inducing a heavy dose of ground balls and soft contact that made any rally hopes a bit more faint. Hill allowed two hits over four innings to pick up the win. He worked around five walks.
Braden Doyle homered to begin the third inning, and Charleston scored again when Coartney doubled, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a throwing error.
“We’ve come out on days like this with the wind blowing out and hadn’t squared the ball up like that,” Landrus said. “We had some good swings, and we can do a lot of stuff, run, really all facets of the game. That’s why we’re at where we’re at.”
Marshall (6-10) scored its only run in the first inning on a manufactured opportunity and did it without the benefit of a hit. Braden Vondohlen reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second, advanced to third on a ground ball and scored on a wild pitch.
The Lions put multiple runners on base in each of the last two innings, but Charleston turned double plays in both to de-escalate the threat and offer a reminder that the defense, too, has helped them hit the 20-victory plateau this year.
“It shows consistency,” Landrus said. “That’s what you want.”