Marietta High claims sectional title

MARIETTA – Marietta High had to summon some two-out lightning in extra innings to claim its first sectional baseball championship since 2009.

Turner Hill scored from second base on Isaac Danford’s groundball, which got by the Warren infielder, in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Tigers to a dramatic 6-5 triumph over the Warriors at American Legion Field Thursday night.

“I just wanted to put the ball in play, and hopefully get Turner in,” said Danford, who had hit the ball hard all game long.

With the victory, third-seeded MHS (20-7 overall record) advances and is scheduled to play second-seeded Lancaster Fairfield Union in a district semifinal at 7 p.m. Monday at Athens High.

During regular-season play, Marietta High defeated Warren (12-13) twice, once at Marietta College’s Don Schaly Stadium.

“It’s always good to get three wins against Warren,” Danford said. “I’ll take it any day. We found a way to score some runs and beat them.

“We didn’t play as clean as we normally do, but we got that ugly game out of the way, and we’re good to go.”

MHS junior southpaw reliever Brandon Schamp got the mound win, striking out five, walking two, and allowing just two hits.

Offensively, Turner Hill rapped out three hits, and younger brother Kail Hill had two knocks and an RBI. Matthew Earley had a clutch two-run single in the fourth.

As a team, the Tigers committed four errors.

“It wasn’t our best-played game,” said veteran Marietta High skipper Jim Thrash said. “But we hung in there and made something happen – and it worked out. I loved the way we came back and won it with two outs in the eighth inning.”

Warren junior righty Chase Weihl suffered the mound setback in relief of starter Tanner Neal. The 6-foot-6 Weihl fanned seven, walked five, and gave up three hits. He allowed one run, and it was unearned.

Senior catcher Jake Davis was 3-for-3 and scored a run to lead the Warriors. Trace Congleton and Trace Schafer each added two singles for the royal blue and white.

“Marietta definitely gave us a game, and we gave them a game,” said Davis, a Heidelberg University recruit. “It was a well-fought game all eight innings.”

Ryan Lemley said that he hoped all of the fans enjoyed the contest.

“This was what I would say was a good old-fashioned baseball game,” the Warriors head coach continued. “It was a great game to watch.”

The game started out as a pitcher’s duel between Marietta right-hander Trent Dawson and Warren’s lefty Neal.

Both threw three scoreless innings.

But in the top of the fourth, Warren staked itself to a 2-0 advantage when Congleton and Schafer came around to score on Colton Sammons’ groundball, which was thrown errantly to first base.

In the bottom half of the frame, MHS answered that with a bat-around, which produced five runs. During the surge, the Tigers capitalized on four hits (by Danford, Brandon Neville Kail Hill, and Earley), two Warrior miscues, a sacrifice bunt (by Derek Duckworth), and one base on balls (to Danny Hiser).

Earley, who bats ninth in the order, had a big two-run single.

The orange and black also chased Neal, who was relieved by Weihl.

“Chase pitched real well,” Davis said. “He came in in a tough spot and got us out of it.”

Down 5-2, Warren came back, though, in the top of the fifth to score three runs to tie the game. Like Marietta, the Warriors took advantage of a couple of Tiger errors, consecutive hits by Davis, Tanner Proctor, and Weihl, and a hit batter (Congleton).

“The kids didn’t quit, and I was proud of them for that,” Lemley said. “They battled the whole game.”

Warren also chased Dawson, who was replaced on the bump by Schamp.

“Have you ever seen so many infield groundballs that were either hits or errors?” Thrash said. “Warren did one heckuva job, putting up a battle against us. I think when they rallied back after we got up on them 5-2, we knew we were in for a dogfight going down the stretch.”

After the game went into extra innings, Warren threatened to score in the top of the eighth when Bryce Gandee walked and advanced to second on Neal’s sacrifice bunt. After Davis received an intentional walk, he and Gandee moved up a base on a groundout.

“I wasn’t too happy (with the intentional walk), but if they’re going to give me a free base, I’ll take it,” Davis said.

Schamp got out of the jam by getting another groundout.

“He’s been consistent all year, and got the job done,” Danford said.

In the bottom half of the frame, Turner Hill stroked a two-out single to left and stole second. After Dawson walked, Danford hit the ball hard to the Warriors’ second baseman, who was unable to field it. On the grounder, Hill never hesitated as he rounded third and raced home with the winning run.

“The top of the (Marietta) order is pretty daggone good, and that ended up being what got us,” Lemley said.

Added Thrash, “The game wasn’t a pretty thing, but it was a beautiful thing.

“I just want to congratulate Warren on having a good year. We know we have good baseball players in Washington County, and they’re part of that. I’m just sorry that we had to play each other in the first round of the tournament.”

NOTE: Lemley got his 200th career win (between Southern and Warren) at the baseball helm in a Warriors’ win against Dublin Scioto this past Saturday.