Etta Express spells relief S-T-O-V-E-R

After being credited with his third save of the season in Marietta College’s 5-4 triumph over Baldwin Wallace University at Don Schaly Stadium last Saturday, sophomore reliever David Stover got the second game off in the scheduled Ohio Athletic Conference baseball doubleheader.

The right-handed-throwing pitcher was not idle, though, during MC’s 10-0 setback to the Yellow Jackets in the nightcap.

“I was doing the pitch charts,” Stover said.

“I wasn’t in the dugout. But I could just tell, nobody was up and Coach (Brian Brewer) wasn’t too happy.”

Even with their first loss in conference play, the Pioneers still clung to first place in the league standings with a 5-1 record.

“Not a bad start (in the OAC),” Stover said.

Since that twinbill, Marietta is now 16-11 overall and 6-2 in the OAC after splitting a pair of games with host Otterbein University Wednesday. In Game 2, Stover picked up the win, his sixth of the season without a loss. In 4-2/3 innings of relief, he gave two unearned runs on four hits with one walk and four strikeouts.

“This season’s definitely been fun,” Stover said.

The Etta Express is slated to roll into Tiffin this Saturday for another 1 p.m. league doubleheader against Heidelberg University.

As MC’s “shut down guy” out of the bullpen, Stover will be ready for the always-tough Student Princes.

Listed at 6-foot-8, 220 pounds, Stover is an imposing figure on the bump, especially when he delivers the pitch submarine style to the batter. While he’s not overpowering, like teammate and preseason All-American honoree Christian Herstine can be, he’s got good stuff and movement.

Stover’s submarine delivery is very similar to that of former Pioneer righty Kent Tekulve (Class of 1969), who threw in the major leagues for 16 seasons, mostly with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Currently, he’s a Buccos analyst for Root Sports Pittsburgh.

“Actually, I worked with (Tekulve) this (past) summer a few times,” Stover said. “The coaches set me up with that. He’s taken me down underneath PNC Park to throw in the bullpen.

“He’s been such a big help on how to approach batters, like lefties for the most part. That’s the hardest thing being a right-handed submariner, because the lefties see the ball so good.”

When Stover first arrived at Marietta from Thomas Jefferson High in Pittsburgh, Pa., he was an overhand pitcher. In his freshman year, though, he transformed himself into a submariner.

“Halfway through the season last year,” Stover recalled, “the coaches (Brewer and pitching coach Cody Castle) switched me because I wasn’t getting it done overhand. They said I looked more natural like that.

“So, I switched and two weeks later, I was in a game. It wasn’t too long of a transition for me. It just clicked with me. I’m happy it happened.”

In his frosh season, Stover pitched in relief in 12 games. In his debut against St. John Fisher on March 8, 2015, he threw an inning of shutout relief. He then got his first Pioneer win against the University of Mount Union, throwing in five frames.

Stover finished his inaugural MC baseball campaign 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA and two saves against Case Western and Rhodes in the NCAA South Regional.

So far this spring, he’s made 14 mound appearances, all in relief, and posted a 6-0 mark with a sterling 1.51 ERA. Earlier this season, after Pioneer wins against Lynchburg and Neumann, he was honored as the OAC Pitcher of the Week and named to the D3baseball.com Team of the Week as a relief pitcher.

“The coaches are great, and have given me the opportunities to succeed,” said Stover, a petroleum engineering major at MC.