PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - Two days after holding on for a 5-4 win over Denison University, the No. 1-ranked Marietta College Pioneers again edged the Big Red as the Etta Express escaped with a 2-1 victory over Denison on Wednesday. The Pioneers are now 7-1 overall. Denison fell to 3-6 on the season.
Both teams started seniors on the mound and an epic pitchers duel ensued. The Pioneers sent Austin Blaski to the hill and Denison countered with Tyler Vaske.
Blaski threw seven innings of shutout baseball allowing just three hits. He struck out 11 Big Red hitters and didn't walk a batter. Marietta head coach Brian Brewer went to the bullpen to start the eighth inning as Blaski went over the 100-pitch mark in the seventh.
Denison's best scoring opportunity was in the fourth inning. Center fielder Tyler Nicholson led off with a triple to right field. However, Blaski struck out the next three hitters to end the threat,
Logan Lewis (1-0) got the win. Lewis pitched the final two innings. He gave up one run on one hit with a walk and four strikeouts. All told, the Pioneer pitchers whiffed 15 Denison hitters.
Tyler Vaske (0-1) went the distance for Denison. Vaske pitched 8.0 innings and gave up two runs on seven hits. He walked two and struck out seven. At one point, Vaske retired 10 straight Pioneers.
Marietta got on the board first plating a run in the bottom of the third. Kirby Becker walked to lead off the inning and was sacrificed to second by Jordan Grilliot. Fellow junior, Aaron Hopper, dropped a double into shallow leftfield to score Becker.
In the top of the eighth inning, Denison junior third baseman Kyle Clemmenson greeted Lewis with a blast over the leftfield fence tying the score at 1-1. Lewis responded by striking out the side to end the inning.
Marietta's eighth inning looked eerily similar to the third. Grilliot lead off with a base hit bunt. Hopper sacrificed him to second. Tim Saunders doubled to left center driving in Grilliot with the winning run.
Lewis retired Denison in order in the top of the ninth for the win.
Hopper was the only hitter for either team with two hits in the game. Marietta ended the game with seven hits and Denison managed just four. Both teams played errorless defense.
The Etta Express wraps up play in Florida with two games today. Marietta plays Montclair State at 11 a.m. and then square off with Wooster at 2:30 p.m. Following the doubleheader, the Pioneers will travel back to Demorest, Ga. for games against 6th-ranked Rowan Friday and 7th-ranked Piedmont Saturday.