Marietta baseball splits with La Roche

Photo Provided by Marietta College Marietta College’s Brady Cottom gets ready to take a swing during a college baseball game against La Roche Wednesday at Don Schaly Stadium.

MARIETTA — After dropping four consecutive games including a 15-9 first game loss to La Roche College, the Marietta College Pioneers were in dire need of some solid pitching in the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader at Don Schaly Stadium.

The Etta Express got just what they needed from a pair of relievers in the nightcap as they salvaged a split with a 7-4 victory.

Sophomore John Stover and freshman Sam Mathews combined to allow just one unearned run over the final seven innings and the Pioneer bats pounded out 12 hits for the second straight game to snap the four-game skid just in time for Ohio Athletic Conference play to begin this weekend.

Pioneer head coach Brian Brewer had high praise for his two young relievers.

“He (Stover) was sharp he was down and Mathews was sharp and he was down and that’s key,” said the Marietta skipper, in his 16th season as head coach. “We don’t have a plus arm on staff so we’ve got to work out front strike one and be down in the zone.”

La Roche pounded out 18 base hits in the opener including seven extra base knocks as they scored six times in the final three innings to break a 9-9 tie and pull away to their seventh win of the season.

Jay Novac and Shane Roebuck collected four hits apiece and shortstop Troy Kifer added three to pace La Roche in the opener.

The Redhawks picked up right where they left on in the second game as they scored twice off of MC starting pitcher Gino Sabatine in the opening inning to take an early 2-0 lead.

Jonathan Spina and Austin Hoffman led off the game with back-to-back singles and center fielder Dylan Urban brought them both in with a two-run single.

Stover replaced Sabatine on the bump to begin the third inning and limited the Hawks to just an unearned run and four basehits over four innings of work.

The Pioneer offense came to like in the bottom of the third as they scored four times to take a 4-2 lead.

Pioneer catcher Nolan Wetherald got the Etta Express rally going with a basehit as did Damian Yenzi and Zack Ward to load the bases with nobody out.

La Roche starting pitcher Dustin Lander got Jonathan Pingree to pop out for the first out but Mike Hale’s great at-bat that saw the senior first baseman foul off five consecutive pitches finally resulted in a walk that forced the first run of the game in for Marietta.

Trent Castle followed with a two-run single that put the Pios in front and Seamus Kennealy lined a hit to center field to plate Hale with the fourth run of the inning.

Marietta added a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth on a two-run single by freshman second baseman Drew Holderbach before Castle collected his third RBI with a run-scoring single in the sixth to cap the Marietta scoring.

Brewer was pleased with his team’s ability to swing the bat in the twinbill especially in the nightcap.

“In game two I thought we were a little better offensively,” said Brewer of the 24-hit afternoon. “We weren’t bad in game one but I thought we were a little more aggressive in the batters box in game two.”

Mathews entered the game in the seventh inning and pitched the final three innings allowing a pair of hits and a run to secure his second save of the season.

Brewer was encouraged by his pitching staffs ability to to put together the strong second game after a dismal performance in the opener.

“The difference in the two games was we didn’t execute our pitching plan in game one,” said Brewer. “We allowed them to get awful comfortable in the batters box. In the second game I thought we did a much better job of taking ownership of the inside third against a physical team that swings it aggressively.”

Yenzi pounded out five basehits in the double header while Holderbach knocked in four runs.

Marietta College will open Ohio Athletic Conference play Saturday when they travel to Baldwin Wallace for a 1 p.m. doubleheader.