In the top of the eighth inning in Game 2 of Saturday's Community Day doubleheader at Don Schaly Stadium, Otterbein University's Matt Workman led off with a ground ball back to Marietta College pitcher Mark Williams, who fielded it cleanly.
The righthanded-throwing Williams then raced towards first base and tossed the ball underhanded to Pioneer teammate Braden Park at the bag for the first out.
It was a simple, routine play.
Thing is, it was anything but that for Otterbein in the bottom half of the first inning.
With two outs and Marietta's Kirby Becker on third and Tim Saunders on second, Otterbein hurler John LaCorte got Pioneer batter Aaron Hopper to hit a comebacker to him.
Easy out and end of inning, right?
LaCorte had all the time in the world to throw to Otterbein first baseman Robb Hendershot for the putout. But instead, from the mound, the Cardinal righty aimed his overhand peg which went in the dirt and skipped by Robb.
With the Cardinal first baseman unable to scoop up LaCorte's errant throw, Hooper was of course safe, and on the play both Becker and Saunders, running with two outs, scored to give the Etta Express a 2-0 lead.
Before the dust settled in the frame, Marietta was able to add one more unearned run to make it 3-0.
"That's what good teams do," said MC skipper Brian Brewer after the contest. "If you get an extra out, the other team's got to pay for it and our guys did a nice job of that."
No question about that.
In the twinbill's opener, top-ranked Marietta staked itself to a 3-0 first-inning advantage by capitalizing on two Otterbein miscues - a fielding error and catcher's interference.
The Cardinals were never able to recover from that and went on to drop a 6-0 decision.
Otterbein was also unable to climb out of the hole in the nightcap, losing to the Pioneers 6-1.
Well, needless to say, baseball players are human beings, and errors are a part of the game. Why, even top-ranked Marietta (29-3 overall and 13-1 in the OAC) makes them - on occasion. But for the most part, the Pioneers don't beat themselves on the field.
Defensively, the Pioneers usually make the plays as evidenced by their sparkling overall .967 fielding percentage. On Saturday, they had one fielding error, which didn't hurt them, in 16 innings of action.
LaCorte actually pitched well for Otterbein in the second game. Settling down, he gave up an earned run to Marietta in the sixth before before being lifted for a reliever in the eighth.
No doubt, though, LaCorte was probably kicking himself at the end of the first inning.
Wonder if the Otterbein pitcher was paying attention to Williams in the eighth?
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at email@example.com