WESTERVILLE, Ohio — Marietta College earned its 31st Ohio Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament Championship with a 6-5 victory over Baldwin Wallace University Saturday (May 14) afternoon at Fishbaugh Field on the campus of Otterbein University.
The Etta Express improves to 28-15 on the season and earned the OAC's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Marietta will make its NCAA-record 41st appearance in the Division III Baseball Tournament.
Baldwin Wallace slips to 23-20 on the season and will have to wait and see if they are awarded an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. The complete tournament field will be announced early Monday morning. In addition to the Yellow Jackets, OAC Regular Season Champion Otterbein is hoping to receive one of the at-large bids.
Senior center fielder Tim McCoy was a one-man wrecking crew for the Pioneers in the championship game. McCoy made his final OAC Tournament game a memorable one crushing two home runs in the game, which accounted for five of Marietta's six runs.
McCoy's first round-tripper was a two-run blast to right field in the third inning that got the Pioneers on the board. Chris Petrucci led off with a single, stole second base and came around to score on McCoy's homer.
Following McCoy's shot, Greg Peffley worked a free pass and that was all fro Baldwin Wallace starting pitcher Alex Albright. Brandon Cichocki took over on the mound and issued a walk to Mike Hale giving Marietta runners on first and second with no outs. Cichocki struck out the next batter but then Connor Golden laced a single up the middle scoring Peffley with MC's third run of the inning.
Marietta starter Tyler Nieberding blanked the Yellow Jackets through the first five innings. BW finally got on the board in the sixth inning. Spencer Badia led off with a double, moved to third on an infield single from Cole Nieto and scored on a single from Mark Zimmerman.
Nieto made a critical base running mistake when he was thrown out at third base on Zimmerman's single. Instead of having runners at first and second with no outs, the Yellow jackets were left with a runner at first and one out. Their next batter hit into an inning-ending double play.
Pioneer skipper Brian Brewer went to the bullpen to start the eighth inning lifting Nieberding in favor of Kordell Antill. Nieberding allowed one run on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts in seven innings of work.
Baldwin Wallace's John Taylor greeted Antill with a single up the middle. Badia hit his second double of the game moving Taylor to third. Nieto flied out to shallow right field for the first out of the inning. Antill induced a ground ball from Zimmerman, but the potential double play ball was booted allowing Taylor to score. Hunter Handel capitalized on the miscue with an RBI single that scored Badia and tied the game, 3-3.
In the bottom of the eighth, Brandon Papp reached on a one-out single to left. After Chandler Palyas lined out to the shortstop, Petrucci slapped a single through the right side of the infield to keep the inning alive for McCoy. BW brought in Tom Leoffler to face McCoy, who promptly hit a towering home run over the wall in right-center putting the Express back on top, 6-5.
Antill retired the first batter in the ninth before allowing a single and a walk. Brewer again went to the pen and brought in staff ace Christian Herstine.
Herstine walked Badia to load the bases with one out. Nieto popped up to Hale at first base for the second out and then Zimmerman singled up the middle scoring two and making it a one run game, 6-5. BW's next hitter, Hunter Handel hit a chopper back to Herstine for the final out.
Antill (4-1) was the winning pitcher throwing 1 1/3 innings. He was charged with four runs on four hits. Herstine earned his first save of the season tossing the final 2/3 of an inning.
Connor Murphy (0-5) took the loss for BW. Murphy allowed two runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings of work. Albright started and went two innings allowing three runs on four hits. Cichocki pitched two shutout innings, while Loeffler gave up one run on one hit in 1/3 of an inning.
McCoy finished 4-for-5 with a double, two home runs and five runs batted in. McCoy and Herstine, who tossed a shutout against BW in the tournament opener, shared the Dick Fishbaugh Most valuable Player honors for the tournament.
Joining McCoy and Herstine on the All-Tournament Team were Hale (1B), Golden (2B), Peffley (3B) and Eric White (C).
Nieto (OF), Zimmerman (SS) and Loeffler (P) represented Baldwin Wallace on the All-Tournament Team, while Otterbein's Tyler Kent (OF), Taylor Hutchison (2B), Christian Chiero (DH) and Robert Kemer (P) completed the team.