But Poncedeleon, a 38th-round pick by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2012 draft, never made it out of the fourth despite a 13-4 lead built largely on the bat of shortstop Frankie Ratcliff (3 for 4, three-run homer, RBI double). Poncedeleon allowed seven hits, walked two and hit two.
The last pitch Poncedeleon threw turned into a two-run blast by Gomez that made it 13-6 in the bottom of the fourth. Six batters later, with the Herd still up, Leon drove a pitch over the wall with two aboard to shave the lead to 13-11 and change the complexion of the game.
"The feeling was awesome, honestly,'' Leon said. "It gave me some goose bumps.''
The hits just kept on coming for the Herd in the next inning, with Escobedo and Leon each contributing two-run doubles. In the fourth and fifth innings combined, Marshall piled up 13 runs and 11 hits while sending 21 men to the plate.
"I think the bottom line is we were just having quality at-bats,'' Waggoner said, "and the results happened because of our at-bats. I'm excited and proud of the way we kept our heads up and kept grinding and they were able to get themselves back in the game.''
Waggoner also lauded his relief pitching, especially the job done by Margaritonda, a former bullpen ace who had struggled in recent outings. Just when Friday's contest started to resemble an Arena Football game, with MU ahead 17-13 after five innings, Stanley and Margaritonda combined to retire 10 straight batters.
"Our pitchers did a good job at the end of the game,'' Waggoner said, "keeping us right there and giving us a chance to win.
"We had a talk before the game about [Houston's] big innings and that we've got to be able to overcome that, and they did so. They responded well and hopefully that momentum carries into tomorrow.''
Both teams are expected to throw their ace right-handers in today's 2:05 p.m. game, with Aaron Blair (4-1, 2.60 ERA) going for MU against the Cougars' Austin Pruitt (6-1, 2.09). The series wraps up with a 10 a.m. Sunday game.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.