Win 1, lose 1: Wild ride ends in victory for Pios
A game that started nearly 21 hours after it was originally scheduled was worth the wait for Marietta College fans, as the Pioneers claimed victory in a thrilling 11-10, 13-inning slugfest to stay alive in the 2013 Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament.
Marietta would later lose to Otterbein 10-8 to be eliminated from the tourney.
After a clean 12th inning for both clubs, the wheels fell off for the Pioneers.
John Carroll’s Jimmy Spagna led off the top of the 13th with a double to center. Pitching his seventh inning of relief, Evan Brockmeier got next batter Aaron Miller to ground out to short, keeping Spagna at second, but then Tyler Gentile bounced a 1-1 pitch through the left side, bringing home Spagna for the potential winning run. Gentile went to second on the throw home, which allowed Ryan Konsler’s single to send him home and make it a two-run game. Connor Marrero followed by grounding to third, but a pair of throwing errors allowed Konsler to come around and score, making it 10-7.
It appeared Marietta was going to go two-and-out in the OAC tourney.
But just as the wheels came off for the Pios, they did so in a much more painful fashion for John Carroll the next half inning.
After Brockmeier walked to lead off the bottom of the 13th, Chris Winpigler doubled to left-center to put two runners in scoring position with no outs, prompting the Blue Streaks to pull reliever Zach Verner in favor of Kevin Rosinski. Rosinski got Alex Toth to ground out to first, scoring Brockmeier. Mitch Geers made it a one-run game with an RBI-single back up the middle, plating Winpigler and making it a 10-9 game. Hopper followed by bouncing a ball up the middle just out of the reach of Mitch Herringshaw at shortstop, sending Geers to third with one out.
What followed was the deciding play in one the craziest contests ever played at Schaly Stadium.
Ryan Hanahan, who came in as a defensive replacement earlier in the game, hit a base knock to right to score the tying run. In an effort to cut down Hopper trying to go to third, the throw got past the third baseman and allowed Hopper to score the game-winning run.
Hopper was mobbed at the netting behind home plate as the Pioneers kept their OAC Tournament championship hopes alive for the time being.
Brockmeier was credited with the mound victory, going 7.2 innings of relief, giving up six hits and four runs (two earned).
“We know Brock is Brock,” said Marietta head coach Brian Brewer after the loss to Otterbein. “He’s gonna give us two innings or six innings, whatever we need.”
Kevin Rosinski, the victim of poor fielding, took the loss, retiring just one batter.
Both starters lasted just 4.1 innings. Marietta’s Mike Mulvey gave up eight hits and allowed three runs (two earned) while John Carroll’s Andrew Doring gave up five earned runs on seven hits.
Mulvey got into some early trouble. After plunking leadoff hitter Joe Veltri, Mulvey drew back-to-back line outs to center fielder Aaron Hopper before Jimmy Spagna singled through the left side and Aaron Miller worked a walk to load the bases. Mulvey bore down, getting Chet Lauer to hit a lazy fly ball to right fielder Tim McCoy to escape unscathed.
The Pioneers were able to get on the scoreboard just two batters into the contest against Doring.
Jordan Grilliot led off with a triple to deep right-center field and promptly scored on Brockmeier’s sharp single to right.
They were not done, as Winpigler reached after being hit and Toth got on via an error to fill the bases. Geers then pulled a base hit past the shortstop to plate Brockmeier and Winpigler, still with no outs. After Hopper bunted the runners over, Doring got a big punch-out of McCoy for the second out, giving himself a chance to get out of the inning with no further damage.
However, eight-hole hitter Bryan Gregorich sent a first-pitch fastball right back up the middle, bringing home Toth and Geers to make it a 5-0 game.
Mulvey got into a jam again in the top of the second. Konsler and Marrero notched consecutive one-out singles, but Marietta’s senior hurler induced a fly out to Hopper and a lineout to Gregorich at third to keep JCU scoreless.
The Streaks finally got the big hit they had been missing in the third when Miller mashed a home run to deep left. Unfortunately for John Carroll, the bases were empty, making it a 5-1 game.
The Blue Streaks put another dent in the Pios’ lead in the fifth. After Herringshaw reached on an error, Spagna turned on a Mulvey offering and poked it just over the left field fence to make the score 5-3.
A single to right by Miller and a double to left-center by Lauer put the tying runs in scoring position for seven-hole hitter Mark Huddle, who drew a walk to load the bases.
MC elected to go to the bullpen, putting right-hander Mike Fulton on the Hill to face Konsler, who already had a pair of hits in the game.
Fulton struck out Konsler on three straight pitches for the second out and then got Marrero to fly out to McCoy to slam the door on the Blue Streaks’ rally.
The Etta Express got a pair back in the bottom of the fifth. Geers walked with one out before Hopper singled to left. Geers came around to score on McCoy’s double to right. Hopper was held at third, but McCoy rounded second and got halfway to third before stopping. Marrero’s throw to third sailed over everyone, allowing Hopper to score and McCoy to get to third, making it 7-3.
Back-to-back doubles off the bats of Veltri and Bobby Sabatino to start the sixth cut it to a three-run game. Herringshaw then blooped a single just over Geers at first to put runners at the corners with no outs.
Spagna grounded into a fielder’s choice to bring home Sabatino before Miller doubled to the warning track in left-center to plate Herringshaw, making it 7-6. That was it for Fulton, who was replaced by Brockmeier on the mound. Brockmeier retired the next two batters to preserve Marietta’s lead.
Marietta got a base runner in its half of the sixth when Brockmeier drew a base on balls against reliever Aaron Lapaglia, but Brockmeier was caught stealing on the next pitch.
That play proved to be crucial, as next batter Winpigler singled to right. As it was, Lapaglia got Toth to fly out to right to end the frame.
After Brockmeier worked a six-pitch, 1-2-3 seventh inning, Sabatino laced a single to right on the first pitch of the eighth inning before the next three batters were retired to preserve Marietta’s 7-6 advantage.
MC tried to play add-on in the bottom of the eighth. Zak Bukiewicz reached on an error with one out and then went to third on Grilliot’s single up the middle. Brockmeier then grounded sharply to Huddle at short who, after momentarily bobbling the ball, stepped on second and fired to first to get Brockmeier by half a step to end the inning.
Lauer led off the ninth inning with a ground ball single to right. After pinch hitter Robby Cifelli sac bunted, Konsler was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second. Marrero then hit a one-hopper back to the Brockmeier, whose throw pulled shortstop Christian Demko off the bag to load the bases with one down. Veltri then lined a fly ball at Geers in left, who made a diving catch, but Lauer made it home safely to tie the game at 7-all. An appeal was made that Lauer left early, but to no avail.
With the game tied up at 7-7 in the bottom of the ninth, Chris Winpigler led off by blistering a single to center field off Verner. After Alex Toth bunted him to second, Verner got Geers to fly out to center for the second out.
After Aaron Hopper worked a 10-pitch walk, pinch-hitter Josh Ungerbuehler pop flied to right field to end the threat and send the game into extras.
Each team escaped danger at some point in the 10th through 12th innings, before the 13th inning madness ensued.
After falling to Otterbein, Marietta now will wait to see if it will get an at-large bid in the Mideast Regional Tournament. John Carroll’s season ended at 25-16.
“The kids showed a lot of heart and a lot of character,” said JCU skipper Mark Thibeault. “They did a great job. I told them to leave it on the field and they did. I couldn’t ask anything more out of them.”