Sports Talk: Pios ousted; a tale of 2 pitchers from the other side

Marietta College’s baseball team faced two starting pitchers of contrasting records in the NCAA Division III Mideast Regional at Don Schaly Stadium Saturday.

One was undefeated and the other was winless – and both still were at the end of the day.

The first hurler was 5-foot-11 senior right-hander Colin Weiss of Widener University (33-11), and he beat MC 5-4 to improve his record to 8-0.

That setback dropped the the top-seeded Pioneers into the losers bracket.

In the late afternoon elimination game, Marietta (30-16) bowed out of Mideast play when it fell 7-5 to Thomas More College (25-18). Saints’ sophomore Brandon Humphrey (0-4) toed the rubber first, and was relieved by freshman right-hander Ken Ruberg (2-0), who pitched four scoreless frames to pick up the win.

While Weiss, the Commonwealth Conference Pitcher of the Year, was not exactly overpowering, he did mix his pitches well, and kept the Pioneer batters off-balance at the plate. He went the 9-inning distance on the hill, allowing eight hits and four runs, three of which were earned.

Southpaw starter Jason Byers (10-2) was the hard-luck thrower for the PIoneers.

Weiss finished with six strikeouts and one walk in 121 pitches. He did have trouble with MC’s Ryan Hanahan (3-for-4) and Chris Winpigler (2-3) who combined to rough him up for five hits and score three runs.

Weiss and Widener were staked to a 3-0 first-inning advantage, and that certainly helped. The Pride then led Marietta 4-2 after two. The Pioneers, who never led in the contest, came back to tie the score with single runs in the fifth and sixth.

But the Pride regained the lead 5-4 in the bottom half of the sixth on Michael Elfreth’s RBI single to right.

Elfreth finished the contest 4-for-4.

Bearing down, Weiss retired nine of the remaining 11 MC batters he faced. And, in the top of the final frame, the Pioneers went quietly, 1-2-3.

The 6-5 Humphrey was 0-4 with an 8.03 ERA going into the contest. He was an interesting choice to get the starting nod on the hill in such an important game.

Obviously his coach (Jeff Hetzer) had confidence in him.

MC touched the TM righty for a couple of runs in the first on Josh Ungerbuehler’s two-run double, and one more in the second on Zach Bukiewicz’s RBI hit.

The Saints came back, though, to score one in the third and three more in the fourth for a 4-3 lead.

Before departing after five innings of work, Humphrey had allowed all five Pioneer runs on eight hits, and the Saints trailed by one.

Thomas More rallied to tie the score at 5-all in the sixth, and then plated two runs, one on a safety squeeze, in the eighth for a two-run cushion.

Ruberg, the Saints side-arm-throwing reliever, was very effective in closing the book on the Marietta season, but did have to work out of a jam in the ninth when he gave up two-out hits to Tyler Packanik and Winpigler. Both Pioneer players were stranded, though, on third and second, respectively, when Hanahan popped to second for the final out.

Righty reliever Mike Fulton (1-2) suffered the mound setback for the Pioneers.

While Humphrey may have been a questionable starter, he kept the Saints close, and of course got a no-decision, which is always better than a loss.

Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441 or at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com