Pioneers trade blows with Denison, fall 10-9
Both Marietta College and Denison put up some big numbers on the scoreboard in Saturday’s afternoon game at Don Schaly Stadium, with the visiting Big Red prevailing 10-9 in 10 innings.
Denison swung big sticks throughout the game, clubbing six extra-base hits and 13 hits overall. But it was Nick Pettigrew’s RBI groundout in the top of the 10th that broke a 9-9 tie and proved to be the difference.
A six-run top of the third, capped by Vince Walker’s two-run home run to left field, propelled the visitors to a 7-0 lead. Marietta starter Scott Oberhelman was charged with all seven runs and exited after 2 2-3 innings of work.
But as big as Denison’s third inning was, Marietta’s fourth was even bigger.
After retiring the first two MC batters in the inning, Denison starter Cody Mauri allowed the next four batters to reach. Brady Cottom singled, Zach Ward doubled, Michael Barnabei singled and Seamus Keneally doubled to cut it 7-3.
Andrew Bruss came on in relief and Marietta greeted him with back-to-back singles by Geoff Snyder and Chris Petrucci to make it 7-4. Bruss then struck out Shane Fetsko, but the third strike got by the catcher to allow the rally to continue. That was crucial as Mike Hale and Damian Yenzi hit back-to-back two-run singles, and Marietta found itself up 8-7. All eight runs scored with two outs.
Denison retook the lead with a run apiece in the sixth and seventh innings, but MC tied it in the bottom of the ninth on Connor Golden’s bases-loaded fielder’s choice grounder to second to send it to extras.
A dropped flyball in the top of the 10th haunted Marietta. After Max Lahn led off with a single against Marietta reliever Dalton Wiggins, Vince Walker lifted a ball to left. Left fielder Ward appeared to be under it in foul territory, but the wind took it back into fair play, where Ward had it pop out of his glove. That put runners on first and second with no outs. They advanced to second and third on a sacrifice bunt, and Lahn scored on Pettigrew’s bounce out to third base.
Snyder led off the bottom of the 10th with a single, but Denison’s Taylor Perrett retired the next three batters to get the save and give Denison a huge victory.
Guided by former Marietta assistant Mike Deegan, Denison improved to 19-6 on the year.
“We’re the up-and-coming team, you know what I mean?” Deegan said. “Marietta, they get everyone’s best shot. Someone told me when I was here, ‘That MC is like having a bullseye on your chest,’ and that’s what it is. So our guys have a heightened sense of who we’re playing. They’re a ranked team and they’re one of the best teams in the region, so it was a big win for us.”
MC skipper Brian Brewer said miscues in the field created extra chances for Denison.
“I think we gave them some extra opportunities,” Brewer said. “That’s really the empty feeling in the pit of the stomach right now. We gave them too many extra outs and didn’t execute. We’re not playing nearly as aggressively as we did for two weeks.”
The 14th-ranked Pioneers have dropped two games in a row and are now 18-6 on the year.
Wiggins pitched one inning and took the loss for Marietta. Oberhelman got a no-decision. Ian Lutrell pitched 3 1-3 innings of relief while David Stover pitched innings seven through nine. Both were charged with an earned run apiece.
“Scotty was up (in the zone),” Brewer said. “Scotty can’t pitch when he’s up. Stover was good and Ian wasn’t bad either. It was six, seven runs in the first three innings that got us.”
Despite throwing three of his most experienced pitchers, Brewer wasn’t surprised by Denison’s success at the plate.
“They’re a good offensive club,” he said. “They’ve gotten better and better each of the last two years, offensively especially. No surprise at all.”
After Marietta’s big fourth inning, Mikey Rivera came in and pitched five innings of relief for Denison, walking three, fanning six and surrendering just one run to pick up the win.
“Mikey Rivera came in and did a nice job,” Deegan said. “Cody Mauri gave us a good start. He gave us a good three, four innings and kept us in the fight. Mikey came in and Mikey can be really big for us.”
Sam Frazer led Denison with three hits, inluding a triple, and two RBIs. Tanner Johnson, Jack Blanchard and Walker had two hits apiece.
Deegan was thrilled with how his team hit the ball, more so late in the game against Stover, Marietta’s top pitcher.
“Stover’s tough,” he said. “When Stover’s out there you almost think ‘Game over.’ That’s the way his M.O. has been throughout his career, especially this year. We were able to scratch one across, but it’s tough work.
“(Marietta’s) a good team. Those guys are good arms. Our guys did a good job of just sticking with approaches and battling. We were able to put up some big innings and that was probably the difference.”
Snyder, Hale, Ward and Barnabei all collected two base knocks for MC.
In nine seasons as an assistant under Brewer, Deegan helped guide the Pioneers to three Division III nationals championships. Brewer said he’s proud of the job his former coaching mate Deegan has done in his six seasons at Denison.
“He’s doing a great job,” Brewer said. “They were better the day he stepped foot on that campus and they’ve only continued to get better since then.”