Pios sting Jackets: MC sweeps B-W in twinbill
The Marietta College Pioneers got dominating pitching performances by both Jason Byers and Mike Mulvey as they rolled to a doubleheader sweep over the Baldwin-Wallace University Yellow Jackets Saturday to place themselves just one win away from yet another Ohio Athletic Conference Championship.
The Etta Express outscored Baldwin Wallace 6-0 and 10-1 in front of nearly 1,500 fans in attendance on the 15th annual Pioneer Community Day at Don Schaly Stadium.
Byers tossed a seven-inning complete game shutout in the opening game victory while Mulvey allowed just one run in eight innings of work in the night cap.
“It starts and stops with starting pitching and our guys were good today,” said Pioneer head coach Brian Brewer of his dynamic duo. “It’s (pitching) what has allowed us to win national championships the last two years, and it’s what allowed us to be successful today.”
Byers limited the Jackets to just four hits in game one while walking four and striking out one.
Center fielder Aaron Hopper provided Byers with all the run support he would need when he clubbed a two-out, solo home run over the left field fence in the bottom of the first inning.
The Pioneers increased their lead to 3-0 in the third inning when designated hitter Chris Winpigler smacked a run-scoring triple and Mitch Geers plated Winpigler with an RBI single of his own.
Hopper was hit by a pitch to lead off the fifth inning and advanced to second on a single by Toth before scoring on a Winpigler single to make it 4-0.
The Etta Express closed out the scoring in the sixth inning when shortstop Christian Demko singled and scored on a triple by Jordan Grilliot.
Brewer didn’t feel that Byers had his best stuff on the mound but praised the freshman southpaw’s effort on the hill.
“To be quite honest I didn’t think Byers was as sharp as we have seen him today,” said Brewer of the lefty who notched his fifth victory of the season in seven decisions. “He really didn’t quite have his command but he competed and gave us all that he had.”
Pat Havens was saddled with just his third loss of the season in 10 decisions for B-W.
With the rookie doing his job in the opener, Brewer turned to his veteran right hander for game number two and Mulvey was equally up to the task.
Mulvey allowed just five base hits, one of them an opposite field home run to left field by B-W center fielder Nolan Neuschaefer in the sixth inning to prevent the Yellow Jackets from being blanked in the twin bill.
MC grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Toth doubled, moved to third on a ground out by Winpigler and scored on an RBI ground out to shortstop by Geers.
The Baldwin Wallace defense did starting pitcher David Redovian (4-1) no favors in the second game as they committed some five errors in the game including three throwing errors in the Pio fourth inning to allow MC to plate three unearned runs.
Marietta High School graduate Evan Brockmeier led off with a single and came all the way around to score when he stole second base, sprinted to third on a wild pitch and raced home when catcher Joe Hiller’s throw sailed into left field.
Toth drew a one-out walk, moved to second on a fielder’s choice and came around to score on another Jacket error.
Bryan Gregorich made it 4-0 with a sacrifice fly to right field.
Baldwin-Wallace finally got on the board in the sixth on Neuschaefer’s blast, but the Pioneers answered with a pair of their own in the bottom of the sixth.
Hopper was hit by a pitch for the second time on the day to open the inning and Toth followed with his fourth base hit of the double header.
The Pioneer senior catcher reached base in all seven of his plate appearances in the twin bill.
“I can’t say enough about the consistent effort we get from Alex Toth,” said Brewer of Toth who came into the game with a batting average of over .400 for the season. “He doesn’t take pitches off and he doesn’t take innings off. He’s our leader and he’s the heart of our team.”
Geers produced the fifth run of the game on another groundout, and Gregorich made it 6-1 with his second sacrifice fly in three innings.
The defending back-to-back national champion Pioneers added three more runs in the seventh on an RBI single by Grilliott and another Yellow Jacket error and sophomore Ryan Hanahan rounded out the scoring in the eighth with a pinch hit home run just under the score board in left center field to make it 10-1.
Mulvey allowed single base hits in the seventh and eighth innings before giving way to Anthony Knittel who closed out the day with a perfect ninth inning.
The win improved the Pioneer record to 24-8 on the season and put them in great position to claim their third consecutive OAC championship with a 13-3 conference mark.
The Pios will host Wilmington in a doubleheader Friday and will need to win just one of the two games as they hold a two-game lead over Capital heading into the final two games of the season.
“Friday starts the checklist and the most important thing for us to do now is to win this conference championship,” said Brewer. “We’ve got ourselves in position where we have an opportunity to do that and if we do, we will be pleased.”
In addition to the pair of wins, Pioneer fans in attendance were treated to free t-shirts, hot dogs and door prizes as well as being able to keep the foul balls that reached the stands.
“Its just a really special day, community day is always special,” said Toth. “Great support and energy from the fans, a good opponent, and just a good day overall for everybody.”