MARIETTA, Ohio -- Steve Riley capped a brilliant game by stroking a two-run single in the 12th inning as Marietta defeated Ithaca, 14-12, to capture the 1981 Division III Baseball Championship in Marietta. It was the Pioneers' first national title after finishing second twice and fourth once.
The title game matched last year's final two teams. As in 1980, Marietta came into the game undefeated while Ithaca had already suffered one loss. But unlike last year, when the Bombers defeated Marietta twice to claim the title, the Pioneers settled the matter in one game.
Riley, normally a pitcher, was forced into action when the Pioneers' regular first baseman became ill after Marietta's second-round 12-6 win over UW-Oshkosh. Riley collected three singles before his late inning heroics. Riley lined a single through a drawn-in infield scoring Jon Shuler and Ken Lisko with the winning runs. Marietta had come back from a 7-1 deficit after three innings to tie the game, 12-12, in the eighth inning. The Pioneers then rode the shutout pitching of reliever Dale Hurst for the rest of the game.
John Schaly, the tournament MVP, was a perfect 4-for-4 with a double and three RBI in the championship game. With the game on the line, the hot-hitting second baseman was walked intentionally with runnners on base in both the ninth and 11th innings. Schaly finished the tournament with a tournament leading .667 batting average.
This was the second time that Marietta had faced Ithaca in the tournament. Marietta miraculously survived the first-round contest with a 6-5 victory where the Pioneers walked a record 19 batters.
Marietta placed five players on the all-tournament team - Hurst, third baseman Lisko, shortstop Shuler, second baseman John Schaly and catcher-designated hitter Tom Mohl. Ithaca's representatives on the select squad were catcher-designated hitter Steve DeMatties, left fielder Tom Pallister and first baseman-designated hitter Mark Fagan.
Rounding out the all-tourney team were UW-Oshkosh's center fielder Phil Pelky and pitcher Craig Henderson and N.C. Wesleyan's right fielder Mike Jones. Schaly was named the most outstanding player.
1981 All Tournament Team
MVP: John Schaly, Marietta
Catcher/Designated Hitter - Steve DeMatties, Ithaca; Tom Mohl,
First Base - Mark Fagan, Ithaca
Second Base - John Schaly, Marietta
Third Base - Ken Lisko, Marietta
Shortstop - Jon Shuler, Marietta
Outfield - Phil Pelky, UW-Oshkosh; Mike Jones, N.C. Wesleyan; Tom Pallister, Ithaca
Pitcher - Dale Hurst, Marietta; Craig Henderson, UW-Oshkosh