Tigers sweep Warren, 7-2

Danford captures Marietta’s first homer of the season

Warren’s Drew Huffman, left, dives into first base as Marietta’s Will Eschbaugh fields a pick-off throw during Friday’s high school baseball game in Vincent. Marietta won, 7-2. Photo by Jordan Holland.

VINCENT — It wasn’t the hardest, or the furthest ball Isaac Danford has hit in his high school career, but Marietta’s senior shortstop yanked a Bryce Gandee pitch over the short left field fence Friday at Warren to jumpstart the Tigers to a 7-2 victory.

Listed at 285 feet to left field, Danford offered at a pitch up in the zone and got just enough of it to claim not only his first career dinger, but the first of the season for the orange and black, which improved to 22-3 and won its 13th straight game.

“It wasn’t the hardest ball I’ve hit all year, but they have a short porch in left and I got a hold of it, kind of, and it went over,” said Danford, who also doubled and pitched two scoreless innings. “I was just going up there trying to hit a line drive. The ball was up a little, so I was able to drive it out.”

Both Marietta and Warren (16-9) were coming off sectional final wins Thursday, the Tigers beating Meigs 10-0 and the Warriors edging Waverly 1-0. With each team tuning up for their district semfinal matchups on Monday, Friday’s game had a different feel to it.

“Not a typical Marieta-Warren game,” said Warren head coach Ryan Lemley. “For us, we played good defense today. Probably could have hit a little better. We’ll go to work on that.”

Lemley’s club started Tanner Neal, who worked two innings and gave up one run in the loss. Gandee and Drew Huffman three two innings apiece while Max Hapney pitched a scoreless seventh. Right-hander Chase Weihl pitched a complete game shutout against Waverly Thursday, and will go again Monday if available, Lemley said. If not, Neal will get the nod.

“We wanted to get (Neal) some work today,” said the Warren skipper. “He hadn’t thrown in two weeks. We wanted to get him back in the flow.”

The Tigers got two innings out of Danford, who started and was awarded the win, followed by two innings of relief from Corbin Alkire and Derek Duckworth. Brandon Neville got the final three outs, as Marietta won its fifth straight game against the Warriors.

“Any time we’re playing Warren, even when it’s a friendly game like this one was, we want to win,” said Marietta head coach Jim Thrash. “We won and we’re happy about that. We just beat them playing 19 guys. Everybody got to play and everybody contributed in some way. Excited about the fact that it’s a feel-good win. It keeps the mojo going for Monday.”

Added Danford, “It always feels good to beat Warren. We’ve swept them two years in a row now. That feels pretty good. Having this momentum going into future rounds of the tournament, it’s going to do good stuff for us.”

Marietta got two hits apiece from Danford and Danny Hiser, while Zach Deskins and Brady Vincent both had RBI singles. Brandon Neville was 1 for 2 with two runs scored.

“Hopefully our bats are going to be just a little bit more alive than they were tonight,” said Thrash, whose team plays Washington Court House at 5 p.m. Monday at Athens High School’s Rannow Field. “But we got some key hits when we needed them, so that was good.”

Danford agreed that if the Tigers keep hitting well, they’ll be tough to beat.

“Our bats are hot right now,” he said. “Our pitching is never really a problem. If our sticks are hot, I think we can go as far as we can.”

The Warriors got RBI singles from Neal and Gandee, while Weihl was 1 for 3. They’ll matchup with Sheridan at 5 p.m. Monday at Ohio University’s Bob Wren Stadium.

“Marietta’s got a nice club,” Lemley said. “Give them a lot of credit. Just tip your hat and go on.”

The Warriors are hoping it’s not the last time they see the Tigers.

“Our goal — this is what we set out to do when the bracket came out — was to play (Marietta) again,” Lemley said. “That would be both teams at the regional semifinal.”

If Warren and Marietta both win two district games, they’ll face off on May 25 at Gant Stadium in Zanesville.

“You always want to beat Warren, whatever the sport is,” Thrash said. “I wish them well in the tournament. They’ve got a tough opponent, but they’ll be ready.”