Mahaffey pitched Marietta into the Mideast Regional Championship game
MARIETTA, Ohio - One game to decide who goes on and who goes home. It will be either top seeded Marietta College or seventh seeded Manchester College walking away with the Mideast Regional Championship.
Marietta will have to knock off the Spartans for the second time in two days to repeat as Mideast Regional Champions. Saturday the Pioneers were able to hand Manchester their first tournament loss by the score of 6-3. This makes tomorrow's 1 p.m. game for a Mideast Regional title and more importantly a reserved seat in the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship in Appleton, Wis.
Saturday the Pioneers' hopes rested on the right arm of senior Mike Mahaffey. Mahaffey gave up two runs in the first inning, but then settled down and turned in a performance that Marietta head coach Brian Brewer coined "special."
"There were a lot of nerves in the first inning," Mahaffey said. "But the energy in the stadium helped me a lot."
Mahaffey (6-2) threw 8 1/3 third innings of three run, five hit baseball, picking up the win. Mahaffey walked three and struck out nine.
"I was getting ahead with my off-speed and had control of my fastball," Mahaffey said. "Having three or four pitches makes it hard to hit."
Manchester got to this point by running through the winner's bracket of the championship. First the Spartans defeated Washington & Jefferson, then got by Adrian before defeating St. John Fisher to get the Championship Round.
The Pioneers won their opening round game of the tournament defeating LaRoche, but then fell to St. John Fisher and dropped into the loser's bracket. The top seeded team bounced back with wins Friday over Washington & Jefferson and Adrian. The Pioneers followed that up with two wins today. The first one over St. John Fisher, and then the second one over Manchester.
Manchester scored two runs in the first inning. Bryce Murphy led off the game with a double. Then Brad Murphy singled. Corey Marchant was hit by a pitch to load the bases. After a fly ball that was too shallow to score the runner from third Cody Schell singled to score Bryce Murphy. Trevor Kimm then drew a bases loaded walk to put The Spartans up 2-0.
The Pioneers answered back with two in the second inning. With two outs Kirby Becker singled in Alex Toth and Jordan Grilliot who both reached earlier in the inning to knot the game at 2-2.
Marietta added on in the third. Evan Brockmeier led off the inning with a single and scored on a Bryan Gregorich two out single.
The score would stay that way until Marietta tacked on two more in the top of the ninth inning. Matt Moormeier drew a bases loaded walk and Grilliot grounded to shortstop but still picked up the RBI.
Bryce Murphy (8-3) pitched 8 innings in the losing effort. He gave up six runs, all earned, on 11 base hits. Murphy walked six and struck out three.
Marietta's first three hitters in the batting order all had two base hits in the game. Shortstop Tim Saunders and designated hitter Josh Ungerbuehler both went 2-for-4 with a double, while Becker was 2-for-5 with a pair of runs batted in.
Manchester scored a run in the bottom of the ninth to make the final margin 6-3 in favor of Marietta.
The Championship Game is slated for 1 p.m. at Don Schaly Stadium on Sunday afternoon.