MARIETTA - Marietta High was unable to protect the lead, and as a result it dropped a 4-3 decision to Athens High in its home-opener at Legion Field Thursday.
"We're quite disappointed," said MHS co-skipper Jim Thrash, whose Tigers suffered their first setback of the campaign after road wins at Alexander and Morgan, respectively.
"It was a good ballgame," Thrash continued, "and Athens did a nice job of coming back on us.
"They executed small things that we didn't execute, particularly bunt offense and bunt defense - and that was very costly to us. You get a lead, you should build on it, but we didn't build on it, and they kept chipping away."
Athens improved its record to 2-0. It's other win was a 10-0 mercy decision against Logan.
"It was a nice comeback," said veteran Bulldogs baseball coach Fred Gibson. "We got down pretty quick. I thought our first pitcher (Casey Grimm) settled down. Our second pitcher (Ryan Ervin) came in and did a really nice job, and our closer (Chris Ford) can really hum."
Ervin was credited with the mound win and Ford got the save.
"He (Ford) has a really nice curveball," Gibson said. "He just came out of Jacksonville, Fla. What a nice move-in."
Marietta righty Nick Lewis suffered the setback in relief of starter Evan Sawyer.
Marietta staked itself to a 2-0 first-inning advantage when Tim Grosel slugged a one-out, two-run homer off Grimm. Scoring ahead of the Tiger center fielder was first baseman Eli Lenington, who led off the frame with a single to center.
Lenington had three of Marietta's six hits in the contest.
The Tigers stretched their lead to 3-0 with a run in the second. With two outs, Joe Roberts singled and moved up a base when Corey Spanner walked. Lenington then singled home Roberts.
With one out in the top of the fourth, Athens got on the board when Ford walked, stole second, went to third on Cody Mack's infield hit and scored on Tanner Wood's sacrifice fly to left.
In the fifth, the Bulldogs scored two unearned runs to tie the score at 3. Leading off, Tyler Lutz singled to right and advanced to second on Austin Ziolkowski's sacrifice bunt. The AHS second baseman then moved up another base on Ervin's single to right.
After that Athens hit, Sawyer was relieved by Lewis.
With runners at the corners, Grimm bunted a Lewis pitch down the third baseline, and the Tiger third baseman overthrew first. On the play, Lutz legged it home, and Ervin raced to third.
Next up, Schriner singled to left to plate the tying run.
In the top of the seventh, Grimm doubled to left with one out. Schriner then grounded to short, and after Jordan Satterfield fired to first for the out, Grimm raced to third and drew an errant throw from the Tiger first baseman.
Grimm scored the go-ahead run standing up.
In the bottom half of the frame, Marietta's leadoff batter Jon Cremeans doubled to left-center to knock Ervin out of the box. Relieving the Athens righty was Ford, who retired the next three Tigers to secure the victory.
"Once they relieved their starter, of the 12 outs remaining, seven were flyball popups, and three of them were strikeouts," Thrash said. "We didn't execute at the plate after they changed pitchers.
"It was one of those games where the little things made an impact on the game."