Pioneers fall to La Roche

Junior Tyler Nieberding turned in his second straight strong outing but it wasn’t enough as La Roche College came from behind to defeat Marietta College 3-2 Friday afternoon at Don Schaly Stadium.

The Redhawks, winners of six in a row, improve to 20-7 on the season. Marietta slips to 14-9 overall.

La Roche took advantage of Marietta’s only defensive miscue to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Colin Williamson reached on an error to lead off the game and then moved up on a wild pitch. Following a ground out that Williamson was unable to advance on, Luis Navedo singled to center, driving in Williamson.

Nieberding blanked the Redhawks over the next five innings. He scattered four hits, all singles, while walking one and striking out a pair in six innings of work.

Marietta left runners on base four of the first five innings and finally got on the board with a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Michael Barnabei reached on a fielder’s choice and stole second with two outs. La Roche starter, Nick Tunstall, induced what appeared to be an inning-ending ground ball but the Redhawk second baseman failed to field the ball, allowing Barnabei to score.

Tanner Wood singled and Brandon Papp walked to load the bases for Chris Petrucci. La Roche head coach Chase Rowe made a quick visit to the mound but decided to leave Tunstall in the game.

Petrucci worked a free pass forcing in Gardner with Marietta’s second run and ending Tunstall’s day.

Shane Emrich took over on the mound for the Redhawks and struck out the next Pioneer hitter to get out of the inning trailing by one, 2-1.

The Marietta lead was short-lived as La Roche plated two in the top of the seventh off of reliever Kordell Antill. The Redhawks struck quickly as Ian Velez led off with a walk and stole second. Shane Roebuck lined a double to right field scoring Velez.

Taylor Huber followed with a single moving Roebuck to third. Antill limited the damage when he got the next batter to hit into a 4-6-3 double play. But Roebuck scored what would prove to be the winning run on the play.

After going down in order in the bottom of the seventh, Marietta put the tying and go ahead runs on base in the eighth but couldn’t drive in either. Greg Peffley and Joey Begany both pinch-hit and coaxed walks out of Emrich.

Once again, Rowe decided to use his bullpen and brought in closer Trey Claar to get the Redhawks out of trouble. Pinch hitter Austin Harvey grounded out to second base moving both runners up 90 feet.

With two out and two runners in scoring position, Claar had to face the top of the Pioneers batting order in the form of Petrucci. Petrucci quickly found himself facing a hitter’s count as the first two pitches from Claar were out of the strike zone. Petrucci hit the 2-0 pitch on the nose but right at the Redhawk shortstop for the third out of the inning.

Claar closed out the game in the ninth inning for his seventh save of the season. Emrich (2-0) got the win throwing 1.2 hitless innings. Tunstall worked 5.2 innings and allowed two unearned runs on seven hits.

Antill (2-1) took the loss. Antill gave up two runs on two hits and walked one. Mitch McNabb retired six of the seven batters he faced in the last two innings.

Barnabei and Papp were the lone hitters in the game with two base hits.

The Pioneers return to Ohio Athletic Conference play on Sunday when Baldwin Wallace University visits Don Schaly Stadium for the 18th annual Community Day. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.