CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The 22 baseball scouts at Appalachian Power Park on Tuesday night watched Marshall's prized right-hander, Aaron Blair, throw nine of his first 13 pitches for balls.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound ace, who barring injury should be an early-round Major League Baseball draft choice this summer, walked the first two West Virginia hitters he faced. He hit the next batter to load the bases.
During the next 21 at-bats, however, Blair racked up strikeouts and added zeroes to the scoreboard and to the end of that lucrative contract he'll likely land as a professional pitcher.
Blair dazzled in front of a crowd of 1,664 - more than double the attendance (751) of the Watt Powell Park meeting between WVU and Marshall in 1998, the last time the state's two Division I college baseball programs played in the Mountain State.
But unlike that matchup 15 years ago, Marshall won Tuesday's bout, 8-0, in a renewed rivalry. It was the Thundering Herd's first win over its in-state brethren since 1991 and its largest margin of victory over the Mountaineers since 1931.
Blair's final line: six innings, no runs, no hits and 11 strikeouts.
It could've been a much different story had Blair not found a way to shake off a rocky start.
"Any good pitcher, you better get him early," MU Coach Jeff Waggoner said.
WVU had its chance.
After loading the bases in the top of the first, Blair threw a changeup and fastball to former Nitro star Matt Frazer, who bats cleanup for the Mountaineers, before sitting him down swinging. The next batter, Ryan Tuntland, battled back from 0-2 to force a full count, but Blair froze Tuntland for strike three.
The final batter of the inning, Ryan McBroom, looked helpless in a three-pitch strikeout.
Frazer went down on three pitches after flailing at Blair's fastball, which sits 90-94 and can touch 95, and his filthy changeup, which is a plus offering.
Marshall pitching coach Joe Renner thought getting Tuntland was the turning point.
"It might've been bigger (than the strikeout of Frazer) because it was a 3-2 count," Renner said. "He threw a great breaking ball. That's a big-time pitch with the bases loaded.
"Once he got that second one, I felt good about him getting the third one."