OAC Tourney Champions
WESTERVILLE, Ohio – Tim McCoy had a blast.
Two of them, actually, as second-seeded Marietta College defeated third-seeded Baldwin Wallace University, 6-5, to claim the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament baseball crown at Otterbein University’s Fishbaugh Field Saturday.
The Pioneer leader in home runs with six now this spring, the left-handed-swinging McCoy slugged a two-run dinger in the third inning and a three-run shot in the eighth for a total of five runs-batted-in. On the day, he finished 4-for-5 and was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
“Yeah, it was huge (the home runs); I knew I had to come out here as a senior and a leader and lead these guys,” McCoy said. “I’ve had a lot of good games at Marietta College, but this is probably the most memorable one – so far.”
With the victory, MC (28-15) received an automatic berth in the upcoming week’s regional tournament at a site to be announced. The Yellow Jackets – who lost to the Etta Express, 1-0, on Thursday, the first day of the OAC tourney – fell to 25-22.
“What a great tournament, all the games,” said Marietta skipper Brian Brewer. “We only played in three, but it feels like we played in six or seven. I thought everybody played well. It was extremely competitive, and we were fortunate to come out and get one or two big knocks than the other teams. It’s a credit to the conference for the competitiveness of the tournament.”
With McCoy leading the hit parade, MC rapped out 14 hits. Every batter in the Pioneer batting order had at least one hit. Chris Petrucci and Connor Golden were the team’s other multiple-hit batters with two apiece. Golden also drove in a run.
McCoy and Marietta ace right-hander Christian Herstine, who beat BW Thursday and picked up his first save of the spring two days later, shared OAC Tournament MVP honors in an awards ceremony after the contest.
“Timmy’s are guy,” Brewer said. “He’s been are the guy all year and he’s been doing it for three years. He’s really deserving of the awards that he got today.”
MC righty reliever Kordell Antill, who played his prep baseball at Monroe Central and legion ball at Beverly/Lowell, got the mound win and improved his record to 4-1. Herstine threw in the top of the ninth to get the save.
Right-hander Tyler Nieberding started on the hill for the Pioneers and got a no decision after tossing seven effective innings.
“Tyler Nieberding was awesome,” McCoy said, “and that translated to our offense. We were able to put some runs on the board and keep a lead.”
Added Brewer, “I thought Tyler was exceptional. We were worried about the matchup-wise, but his change-up is tough on lefties – and BW’s guys are left-handed hitters – so it really worked out.
“Kordell settled in and got some outs when we needed them, and obviously Christian on the back end has been our guy on the mound all year.”
Spencer Badia, Cole Nieto and Mark Zimmerman each had two hits to lead the Yellow Jackets. Zimmerman also had three RBIs and Hunter Handel also drove in a run. Reliever Connor Murphy suffered the setback on the bump. He was one of four BW hurlers to throw in the nine-inning game.
“BW is a really tough team,” McCoy said. “Give them credit. They were in the World Series two years ago and they’ve got a lot of guys with a lot of experience. We knew right from the get-go that they weren’t a team to sleep on.”
With the game scoreless going into the bottom of the third inning, Petrucci led off with a single to left-center. McCoy then staked the Pioneers to a 2-0 advantage with a long home run to right off BW starter Alex Albright.
After Albright walked MC third baseman Greg Peffley, the 6-foot-4 senior right-hander was relieved by Brandon Cichocki, who issued a free pass to Mike Hale.
One out later, Golden singled home Peffley to make it 3-0.
In the fifth, Marietta’s Eric White, Golden and Joey Begany singled to load the bases with one out. But Murphy got out of the jam by retiring Brandon Papp on a pop-up and Chandler Palyas on a groundout to second.
“We should’ve scored some more runs and missed some opportunities, but in the end, it worked out,” McCoy said. “So it’s OK.”
The Yellow Jackets cut it to 3-1 in the top of the sixth when Badia doubled, advanced to second on Nieto’s infield hit and scored on Zimmerman’s single to right. On the hit, Nieto was thrown out at third base.
Nieberding then got Handel to rap into an inning-ending 3-to-6-to 3 double play.
Antill relieved Nieberding in the eighth and gave up run-scoring singles to Zimmerman and Handel, which tied the score at 3-all.
In the bottom half of the frame, MC regained the lead at 6-3 on McCoy’s three-run drive over the right-center field fence off Yellow Jacket reliever Tom Loeffler. Scoring ahead of McCoy were Brandon Papp and Petrucci.
Baldwin Wallace wasn’t about to fold, though, as it rallied for two runs on Zimmerman’s one-out, two-run single off Herstine in the top of the ninth.
“Today was all about preparation,” Herstine said. “I came in, did everything last night and this morning to be ready to pitch today. And I got the opportunity. I started out a little rough, but we finished it.”
Before Zimmerman’s hit, Herstine retired Nieto, BW’s leader in homers with five, on a pop-up to Mike Hale at first. Bearing down after Zimmerman, he got Handel on a comebacker to the mound to end the game.
“Everything worked out,” Herstine said. “That’s all that matters.”