Big bite for ’dogs

MARIETTA – Athens southpaw Cameron Kasler seemed to have Marietta High School off balance the entire game.

Kasler went 6 1-3 strong innings as the Bulldogs spoiled the Tigers home opener by scoring a 3-1 victory Wednesday night at Legion Field.

“We just didn’t get a whole lot of good at-bats against him (Kasler) and when we did we seemed to hit it right at them,” said MHS head coach Jim Thrash of Kasler, who struck out five Tiger hitters. “He did a great job of keeping us off balance the whole game.”

Athens jumped out to an early 2-0 lead off of Marietta starting pitcher Turner Hill in the opening inning.

Andy Kostival drew a walk to begin the game and moved to second on a base hit by shortstop Joe Thomas.

A wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position and back-to-back sacrifice flies by first baseman Brendon Sano and catcher Brock Stewart gave Athens a two-run lead which would turn out to be more than enough for Kasler.

MHS threatened to get on the board themselves in the opening inning as Hill led off with an opposite field double and Danny Hiser legged out a perfectly placed bunt single to put runners on the corners with nobody out.

Kasler got out of the inning unscathed as he retired Brandon Neville, Isaac Danford and Trent Dawson in order without allowing a run to score.

Athens played some nifty defense behind its big lefty as they turned double plays in the second and fourth innings respectively.

The Bulldogs took advantage of the lone Tiger error of the game to score a somewhat controversial insurance run in the top of the fourth.

After a walk to Luke Carpenter and a base hit by Hunter Mullins put runners on first and second, Trey Keiffer laid down a bunt that Tiger catcher Boyd Bingler pounced on an quickly fired to third base.

The umpires ruled that Tiger third baseman Brady Vincent was not on the bag when he caught the ball, loading the bases with Bulldogs with nobody out.

Hill managed to cut his losses as the Tiger left-hander escaped the inning with only one run scoring on a fielder’s choice by Kostival.

Kasler appeared to get stronger as he went until the Tigers finally began to zero in on him in their last at-bat.

Dawson led off the inning with a base hit and Mason Tatro followed by drawing a base on balls.

After a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position, freshman Matthew Early hit a bullet right at Athens shortstop Joe Thomas for the first out of the inning.

Bingler kept the Tiger rally going by grounding a single through the left side of the infield to score Dawson with the first MHS run of the game and put runners on the corners with still just one man out.

Athens elected to bring in the hard-throwing Sano to try and close things out and the big right-hander walked Hill to put the winning run on base but responded nicely by recording a pair of strikeouts to end the game.

“We didn’t lose that game in the seventh inning we lost it well before that,” said Thrash, whose team slipped to 4-1 with the loss. “I was confident our guys would keep fighting and they did, we just needed to come up with one more big hit.”

Kasler was credited with the win for Athens (1-2) while Sano notched the save.

Hill allowed a pair of earned runs in four innings of work to take the loss while Hiser fired three no-hit innings of relief for the Tigers.

MHS will open East Central Ohio League play Friday night when they travel to Zanesville to take on Rosecrans.