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May 19, 2011
No. 1 Pioneers ride Blaski's one-hitter to second Regional victory
MARIETTA, Ohio — A mere 20 minutes after pitching a one-hit shutout, Marietta's Austin Blaski was already thinking about his next opportunity.
"Hopefully I get another chance Saturday or at the World Series," said Blaski, who improved to 10-2 after leading Marietta to a 6-0 victory over Franklin in the NCAA Division III Mideast Regional Thursday at Don Schaly Stadium. [Box Score]
The win sets up a showdown with longtime rival Heidelberg in the winner's bracket at noon Friday.
"They know what we do and we know what they do, so the team that executes is going to win," Blaski said.
Marietta coach Brian Brewer agrees.
"There's no secrets between the two of us," said Brewer, who earned his 350th career win. "We have similar clubs and we respect them like no other."
It will be the fifth game between No. 1 Marietta (40-3) and No. 10 Heidelberg (30-13) this season. The Pioneers have won three of the four previous meetings, including two in the Ohio Athletic Conference tournament.
Blaski tossed a two-hitter against the Student Princes last weekend. Marietta will likely start senior Mark Williams (6-1), who pitched the conference championship game. Best guess for Heidelberg's starter is either Sylvester Nino (5-3) or Brian Koehl (5-3).
"We have a lot of momentum right now," said Marietta shortstop Tim Saunders. "I can't wait to play Heidelberg tomorrow."
Saunders was ready to play Thursday.
The junior went 2-for-3 with a key two-out single in the third that plated two runs and gave Marietta a 3-0 lead. The Pioneers added three more runs in the fifth. Centerfielder John Snyder provided a clutch two-run single that scored Jordan Grilliot and Kirby Becker.
"Marietta is a great team and they took advantage of every mistake we made," said Franklin coach Lance Marshall. "Blaski was just outstanding. He was dominant. He throws hard and has a good slider for an out pitch. We really struggled with him."
Franklin's starter Cody Nees didn't have his best outing, but he did keep the Pioneers off balance early in the game.
"We really did not play well on offense early," Brewer said. "We talked to the guys and they made some adjustments. That allowed us to play fast, which is something we want to do. We're just not a big-inning club, and we don't ask them to try to be one."
One thing Brewer does realize—he has some big-time arms in the bullpen.
"We think (Brian) Gasser is an ace, and that Blaski throws like an ace and so does Williams," Brewer said. "We also have a couple guys we may throw tomorrow that we think are pretty special. We can go six or seven deep. That's what you need to win 40 games."