GRAND CHUTE, Wis. - You talk about adding the exclamation point to an historic achievement.
Mike Mahaffey and Brian Gasser gave sterling starting pitching performances, the bats supplied plenty of offense against the best two strong baseball programs had to offer, and the defensive work was practically flawless.
It all added up to two wins and a second consecutive national championship for Marietta College. Marietta shut out St. Thomas, 5-0, to advance to the championship game and emerged 7-2 winners over Wheaton at the Division III Baseball Championships Wednesday.
ERIC?LINDQUIST Special to The Times
Marietta College’s Evan Brockmeier slides home safely during D3 World Series baseball action at Fox Rivers Stadium in Grande Chute, Wis. Wednesday. MC beat Wheaton, 7-2, to repeat as national champions.
"(Mahaffey) set the tone and Gasser finished it," tournament Most Valuable Player Tim Saunders said.
Marietta (47-8) has now won three national championships in the past seven seasons - twice defeating Wheaton (41-11) in the title game. The Pioneers defeated the Lyons in 2006 by the same scored as this year's victory.
Gasser, who allowed two runs in five innings Sunday in Marietta's lone tournament loss, faced just 13 batters through four innings before he was touched for a run in the fifth. But Gasser didn't give up more than one hit in an inning until the eighth, when Wheaton loaded the bases with one out.
MC 7, Wheaton 2
Wheaton.. 000 010 100 - 2 8 1
Marietta?130 011 10x -7 12 1
WP: Gasser 8 IP, 2 ER, 6 SO, 2 BB
Lewis 1 IP, 1 SO
LP: Palioca 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 1 SO, 2 BB
Holbrook 2 IP, 2 ER, 1 SO, 1 BB
David Longley 1.1 IP
Wheaton hitters: Sean Ryan 2-4; Gusovsky 2-4, 1 run, 1 RBI; Landers 2-3; De la Cruz 0-3, 1 run; Keating 0-3, 1 RBI; Jensen1-4; Haugh 1-4
Marietta hitters: Becker 2-5, 1 run, 1 RBI; Saunders 1-3; Hopper 2-4, 3 RBI; Brockmeier; Stanislav 1=2, 1 run; Gregorich 2-3, 1 run, 2 RBI; Toth 2-3, 1 run; Ungerbuehler 0-3, 1 run
St. Thomas 0
St. Thomas...000 000 000 - 0 4 0
Marietta??101 000 03X - 5 12 1
WP: Mahaffey 8 IP, 7 SO, 1 BB
Lindquist 1 P, 1 SO. 2 BB
LP: Maher 7.2 IP, 6 SO, 5 ER
Mark Ulrich 0.1 IP
St. Thomas hitters: Jack Hogan 1-4; Ben Podobinski 1-1; D. Reichert 1-4; John Kinsel 1-3
Marietta hitter: Saunders 4-4, 3 runs; Hopper 2-4, 1 run, 1 RBI; Brockmeier 1-4; Grilliot 1-1. 1 RBI; Geers 3-4, 2 RBI; Stanislav 1-3; Demko 0-0, 1 run
Gasser completely fooled Apolinar De la Cruz with a changeup and Dan Gusovsky - who had four extra-base hits in the tournament - hit a routine fly ball to center field. That kept Wheaton from cutting into a five-run deficit.
"That was probably the best changeup I threw all day," Gasser said of his strikeout of De la Cruz.
The Etta Express wasted no time jumping on Wheaton co-ace Alec Palioca. Kirby Becker smashed an infield single off third baseman Dan Haugh's glove, then scored on Aaron Hopper's single to center field.
The hits kept coming in the second inning as the Pioneers put together five singles in six at-bats and scored three runs, building a 4-0 lead that would be plenty enough for Gasser.
Palioca settled down a bit, but Marietta chased him in the fifth with a two-out uprising. Josh Ungerbuehler drew a four-pitch walk, stole second, and beat the throw home after Evan Brockmeier's single.
Frank Holbrook, Wheaton's other co-ace as described by coach Eric Podbelski, got the Lyons out of the fifth but couldn't keep the Pioneers scoreless in the sixth. Alex Toth singled and scored on Hopper's hit to left field - the third time Hopper drove in a run with an at-bat in the game.
Marietta won their way to Wednesday with a 6-5 extra-inning victory over the Lyons.
Marietta 5, St. Thomas 0
Mahaffey allowed just four hits and one walk in eight shutout innings to lead Marietta into the championship game with a 5-0 victory over St. Thomas.
Mahaffey was tough on the Tommies from the outset, striking out the first two batters and not allowing a hit until the third. St. Thomas did not put two runners on base at the same time until the eighth inning.
"(Mahaffey) threw extremely well," St. Thomas coach Chris Olean said. "He was down with three pitches, on the corners. He was tough."
Ben Podobinski shook off a hamstring injury to leg out an infield single to start the inning. Dan Reichert's slow grounder sneaked into right field and put Podobinski in scoring position with no outs.
Mahaffey responded as he has in every NCAA postseason outing of his career. He struck out J.D. Dorgan, then induced a lazy fly ball and routine groundout to stop the Tommies in their tracks. Mahaffey in six career NCAA regional and championship round appearances allowed 18 hits and four runs with 26 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings. Most importantly to Mahaffey, the Pioneers are now 4-0 in his four NCAA tournament starts. In three of them, Marietta faced elimination.
"On this kind of stage, when it comes down to it you have to get a win," Mahaffey said.
Both of Marietta's early runs came through Saunders. He doubled down the third-base line in the first inning and scored on Mitch Geers' base hit to left.
Saunders narrowly outran a strong throw from St. Thomas shortstop Jon Kinsel for an infield single in the third, aggressively took second on a wild pitch that got just a few feet away from catcher Dorgan, then scored when Aaron Hopper singled to left field.
"He's fast," St. Thomas pitcher Steve Maher said. "He had three infield singles and when he gets on, he wreaks havoc on the bases."
Marietta had a chance to extend its lead in that inning when Geers singled, then took second on a delayed steal. But Maher retired Josh Ungerbuehler on a hard-hit flyout to left field.
In the eighth inning, the Pioneers made good on an opportunity to add insurance, with Saunders again leading the attack with his legs. He led off with another infield single to shortstop, Hopper singled behind him and Geers followed suit, bringing in Saunders. Jordan Grilliot's double down the first base line brought in Geers after a balk scored Hopper.
Marietta coach Brian Brewer was taking no chances with the Tommies in the ninth. Even with a 5-0 lead, Mahaffey was lifted in favor of relief ace Kyle Lindquist after Jack Hogan doubled to lead off the final frame. Lindquist, working for the third straight day, walked two batters but got out of the inning without allowing a run in a non-save situation.
St. Thomas defeated Marietta Sunday by a 3-1 score.