Marietta rolls Chapman to win national title

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Marietta celebrates with Walnut and Bronze for the fifth time. 
Marietta athletics photo by Larry Radloff 

By Pat Coleman 

GRAND CHUTE, Wis. – Marietta picked up right where Chapman left off, and unfortunately for the Panthers, it meant a 18-5 win for Marietta in a winner-take-all game for the 2011 Division III baseball championship.

Marietta won its record fifth national championship, and its first since 2006.

“It’s a special day for Marietta College baseball,” said Pioneers coach Brian Brewer after the game.

After the ninth-ranked Panthers (37-13) scored both the first eight runs and the final seven in defeating Marietta in the day’s first game, the Pioneers (47-4) brought out the sticks, scoring twice in the first, seven times in the third and three times in the fourth. Austin Blaski (12-2) threw six innings of two-hit ball to help end the drama early.

With Brian Rauh (11-0, 1.74 ERA) unable to pitch after suffering an injury in Chapman’s game on Friday, the Panthers turned to Christian Maietta, who pitched a complete-game five-hitter Saturday against UW-Whitewater. And with the wind blowing out, Marietta took advantage.

Second baseman Kirby Becker opened the top of the third with a base hit and John Snyder moved him over to third on a hit-and-run. Then Saunders tripled to the wall in right-center field to drive in both runners. After an infield grounder, Saunders came in to score on a fielding error by third baseman Tyler Surnbrock.

After Kyle Tachibana replaced Maietta, the hits kept coming. Braden Park singled to center, Bryan Gregorich singled to right and Alex Toth reached on an error by shortstop Troy Newman. Jordan Grilliot reached on an error by first baseman Mark Saatzer. Becker came back around and made the second out of the inning with a sacrifice fly, scoring Gregorich. Toth moved to third on a wild pitch and came in to score on Snyder’s second hit of the inning. Saunders struck out to end the inning.

From that point, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion, but Marietta made absolutely sure by posting crooked numbers in the fourth and fifth, one in the second and two in the eighth.

It was Blaski’s second strong start of the championships, and both of them came against Chapman. Blaski threw seven innings in Saturday’s winner’s bracket game against the Panthers, allowing two runs, both unearned, walking one and striking out eight to put the Pioneers in the winner’s bracket final against Buena Vista. He went another six innings on Tuesday to lock down the national title and earn Most Outstanding Player honors in the championship.

“The first time I had some success,” said the junior, who finished the season 12-2 with a 1.62 ERA. “They hit (Brian) Gasser around in the first game so I was just trying to mainly locate and learn what he had to tell me. I just tried to locate and the early runs really helped. I just tried to pound the zone. I got a lot of early swings, balls put in play.”

Although the Pioneers had to go an extra game to win the title, it played into the team’s strength: pitching depth.

“We just felt like we had better arms, fresher arms, so we wanted to win game one of course, but we felt like the deeper we got into it, the bigger our advantage got,” Brewer said. “We stayed patient, jumped on them pretty early in game two, Austin was lights-out and we played our game in that second game.”

Contributing: Larry Radloff