OAC regular season title on line for Pioneers

Senior Christian Herstine pitched his second complete game win of the season in Marietta College’s 7-1 triumph over John Carroll University Monday at Don Schaly Stadium.

“He was pumping and when he’s like that, it’s fun to watch him pitch,” said Pioneer freshman third baseman Greg Peffley after the contest. “He keeps it low, and he throws it hard.”

Ohio Athletic Conference first-place MC (24-13 overall, 13-3) is hoping to see more of the same from Herstine as he’s expected to toe the rubber in game 1 of a doubleheader against Ohio Northern University (18-15, 6-8 as of May 4) at Wander Field Saturday at 1 p.m. Southpaw Tommy Crowl is the probable starter on the hill for game 2.

If the Brian Brewer-coached Etta Express can earn a sweep at ONU, it’ll clinch the OAC regular-season tournament and host the ensuing league tourney May 12-14. One game behind the Pioneers in the OAC standings is Otterbein University (28-7, 12-4). The Cardinals are slated to entertain Muskingum University (16-17, 6-8) Saturday.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Herstine has been a tamer of Polar Bears since being inserted in MC’s starting pitching rotation as a sophomore. He is 2-0 with a combined nine strikeouts and one walk in 15 scoreless innings of work.

Herstine also had plenty of run support as Marietta beat ONU 10-1 (The MC reliever gave up the run.) in 2014 and 13-0 last season.

This spring, Herstine is 8-2 with a 2.13 ERA. In his last outing vs. JCU, he got 15 groundouts.

“We played well, and Christian was real good,” said Brewer after Monday’s game 1. “When he’s throwing the ball on the right plane which is downhill and keeping his slider down — which he did all day today — those two things are going to relate to swings and misses and groundballs. And, that’s what we’re hoping to get.”

Going around the horn on defense, Marietta is also expected to start Eric White (c, .321 batting average), Mike Hale (1b, .390), Tyler Packanik (2b, .284) or Connor Golden (2b, .327), Peffley (3b, .403), Chris Petrucci (ss, .329), Michael Barnabei (lf, .318) or Chandler Palyas (lf), Tim McCoy (cf, .344), and Brandon Papp (rf, .340).

Crowl, game 2’s probable starting pitcher, is 4-3 with a 4.14 ERA on the season.

Look for tall, lanky sophomore closer David Stover (6-0, 1.88 ERA) to throw out of the MC bullpen.

“This is the big one (game 2),” said Brewer after game 1 Monday. “Coach (Don) Schaly always used to say that the back end of it (doubleheader) is the big one. So, hopefully we can continue to play well.”

Notes: Dating back to 1975, Marietta College leads Ohio Northern, 75-16, in the baseball series…ONU is scheduled to play a makeup doubleheader at Capital University today (Thursday)…Brewer was honored Monday before the John Carroll twinbill for his 500th career collegiate win. He got the milestone when MC defeated St. John Fisher, 6-5, on its annual Florida trip in March.