MARIETTA - It sure appeared eight strong innings by pitcher Cory Waite and a two-run homer by Kyle Chontos were going to be the story of Thursday's OAC tournament opener between Baldwin-Wallace and Marietta College.
Then, the bottom of the ninth inning happened.
Trailing 2-1, host Marietta rallied for a pair of runs to win it, capped by Tim McCoy's two-out, walk-off single to right to plate Josh Ungerbuehler from second base. The Pioneers rushed from the third-base dugout to mob McCoy between first base and home plate. They enter the tournament's winners bracket and will play John Carroll at 11 a.m. today.
Photo by Jordan Holland
Marietta College's Christian Herstine, left, delivers a pitch to a Baldwin-Wallace batter at Don Schaly Stadium Thursday. The Pioneers edged B-W, 3-2, in an OAC Tournament opener.
"A great win," said MC head coach Brian Brewer. "A really, really well-played game I thought.
"That's what the postseason is supposed to be all about right there. I think it's an indication of the strength of our conference that a fourth-place team can come in here and battle tooth and nail."
Marietta couldn't get much going against Waite for the first eight innings of the game, other than a Christian Demko sacrifice fly in the fifth inning that drove in Kevin Johnston. That cut Marietta's deficit to 2-1, as two innings earlier Chontos yanked a Christian Herstine change-up over the right field foul pole for a two-run homer.
To avoid having their backs against the wall the remainder of the tournament, the Pioneers needed some magic in the ninth - and they got it.
A lengthy at-bat by Ryan Hanahan resulted in a walk to lead off the inning. Ungerbuehler followed with a sacrifice bunt attempt. The bunt went back to Waite on the mound, whose throw to second sailed into the outfield to put runners at the corners with nobody out. Waite was then lifted for Yellow Jackets closer Brandon Cichocki.
Cichocki walked his first batter, Chris Winpigler, to load the bases, but rebounded by striking out Tyler Packanik. The next batter, pinch-hitter Ryan Annett, worked a full count before punching a fly ball deep enough to center to bring Hanahan in from third and tie the game.
Then McCoy came up with runners at first and second with two outs and a chance to win the game.
On what was going through his mind at the plate, McCoy said "A lot ... nothing. I was all over the place. I was just trying to put the ball in play. With two strikes, our approach is to hit it backside. (Waite) left me a curveball out in front and I was able to slap it over the second baseman's head."
Jason Byers pitched a scoreless top of the ninth inning to earn the victory for Marietta. Herstine started and pitched the first eight innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits. The right-hander labored at times, walking five batters, but did well enough to keep his team in the game until the end.