MC men open OAC tourney with win over Baldwin Wallace

WESTERVILLE, Ohio – Marietta College opened play in the 2016 Ohio Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament with a thrilling 1-0 win over Baldwin Wallace University Thursday afternoon at Fishbaugh Field on the campus of Otterbein University.

“Winning each game is important regardless of whether you’re in the winner’s or loser’s bracket, but it’s always nice to get the first one in this tournament,” Marietta head coach Brian Brewer said. “Most importantly, it was just nice to play really well today.”

The Pioneers, seeded second in the four-team tournament, improve to 26-15 on the season. No. 3 seed Baldwin Wallace slips into the loser’s bracket with a 21-19 overall record.

In Thursday’s first game, host and No. 1 seed Otterbein (32-9) defeated No. 4 seed John Carroll University by a 9-2 score. Marietta will face Otterbein in the winner’s bracket at 9:30 a.m. today. BW and John Carroll will face off at 12:30 p.m.

With two of the top pitchers in the OAC on the mound in Christian Herstine and Mark Zimmerman, both teams knew runs would be hard to come by. The Etta Express scored the lone run of the game in the bottom of the second inning.

“I thought he was exceptional today,” Brewer said of Herstine. “He was especially sharp in the eighth and ninth innings in terms of location and velocity. He didn’t try to overthrow despite being a little tired, and he becomes tough to beat if he locates that fastball and breaking ball. It was fun to watch.”

Mike Hale led off with a double to left field and moved to third when Eric White grounded out to the second baseman. Connor Golden followed with another groundout to the second baseman to pick up the RBI as Hale scampered home.

Herstine (9-3) won his ninth game of the season with the complete-game three-hitter. He notched 10 strikeouts and walked six in nine innings of work. Herstine got out of trouble in the third with an inning-ending double play.

“This is the best time of year and when we should play our best baseball,” Herstine said. “We all have fun being out here together and just try to maintain high energy. We came in knowing this BW lineup was tough and Zimmerman worked hard opposite me to keep his team right there. We were just able to play the way we want to play.”

Zimmerman (7-4) went the distance on the bump for the Yellow Jackets. He gave up one run on eight hits and struck out six. Marietta’s earned run in the second ended a streak off 33 innings that Zimmerman had thrown without allowing an earned run.

A great defensive play by BW’s centerfielder, John Taylor, kept Marietta from doubling its lead in the sixth. Greg Peffley led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Tim McCoy. Following a strikeout, White laced a single up the middle. Brewer waved Peffley around third but Taylor threw a perfect strike to the plate for the final out of the inning.

The Yellow Jackets tried to mount a two-out rally in the ninth. After retiring the first two batters of the inning, Herstine walked Jerry Scholle who then stole second base putting the tying run in scoring position.

Herstine got Alex Marcum to pop up in foul territory, but the Pioneers dropped the ball giving BW new life. Marcum then hit a sharp ground ball towards the shortstop that hit Scholle who was running on contact. By rule, Marcum was awarded a single and Scholle was called out to end the game.

Marietta had eight hits on the day including three from Peffley and two from Hale.