Tigers fall to Claymont, 8-1

Claymont was clicking on all cylinders Monday as the Mustangs notched nine hits at the plate and received a complete game, three-hit gem from starting pitcher Derrick Barker en route to defeating Marietta 8-1 at Legion Field in an East Central Ohio League matchup.

The game started out as a pitcher’s duel between Barker and Tiger starter Ben Barnas, as the two put up zeros for the first three innings.

The Mustangs finally got things going in the fourth and fifth innings, as they combined for eight runs in the two frames to put the game out of reach for the struggling Marietta offense.

“I’ve got a veteran squad,” said Claymont head coach Mike Smith. “They don’t panic. They know the more looks they get, the second and third time around they’re gonna get good swings and have good at-bats. I just let them do their work and that seems to work out for them.”

Barnas, who struck out two and walked four in four innings of work, was relieved with no outs in the fifth by Nick Lewis. Lewis struck out two batters in two frames while Michael pitched the final inning, striking out one batter.

Barker struck out six Tiger batters in seven innings of work to earn the mound victory.

“He pounds the strike zone,” Smith said of his ace. “He’s excellent, very efficient. He has great command of his off-speed stuff. He’s the epitome of a pitcher.”

MHS scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the third inning. With two outs, Evan Sawyer grounded to second on a play that looked like it would end the inning, but the ball was bobbled and Sawyer reached safely. The next batter Devin Leister hit a solid shot to left-center field, which allowed Sawyer to score all the way from first. Leister would end up reaching third on the throw home but was stranded there.

The lead did not last long, as Claymont quickly responded with a three-spot the ensuing half-inning.

With runners on second and third and one out, a wild pitch allowed Barker to score from third and Hunter Striker to advance from second. After Mitch Smith walked, Smith was caught trying to steal second but Striker alertly came home on the play to put the Mustangs up 2-1.

Nate Robinson continued the inning by singling to left field an going to second on a balk. Cody Bonanno then delivered a double down the left field line to plate Robinson and make it a two-run game.

The Tigers had a chance to cut the deficit down in their half of the fourth. Nathan Bryan led off with a single to left and moved to second on Barnas’ sacrifice bunt. Adam McKnight would later reach base on an error to put runners on the corners with two outs, but the orange and black failed to get a run home.

“We left some guys out there on base that we could’ve got in early that would’ve helped add to our lead,” said Marietta co-head coach Jim Thrash. “That might have helped us down the road.”

The big blow came in the top of the fifth. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Mitch Smith produced a bases-clearing triple down the right field line to make the score 6-1. The Mustangs would tack on two more in the inning to make it 8-1, and that was all she wrote.

“We would have had to play a really nice game to beat Claymont,” Thrash said. “They’re one of the stronger teams in our league. It’s their 10th win. They’re a nice team and they hit the ball when they needed to hit the ball today.”

Striker and Robinson were the only players to have multiple hits in the game. Mitch Smith led everyone with three runs batted in on the night.

Leister, Bryan and Barnas had the three hits for Marietta.

“We’ve got to create more opportunities for ourselves,” Thrash said. “We’re just not hitting the ball right now.

“We’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity teams give us. We’re just not doing that right now like we did earlier in the season.

The Tigers have lost three straight and are now 8-7 overall on the year, including 2-4 in the ECOL. Claymont on the other hand is now 10-3 overall and 3-1 in the league.

Marietta co-head coach Larry Burke remains in search of his 400th career victory, currently sitting at 399 wins as a coach.

Marietta goes on the road to play Meadowbrook today. The game is a continuation of a game that got suspended due to rain on April 16. The teams will resume play in the third inning.