Marietta sweeps its way to OAC Tourney Crown

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TIFFIN, Ohio — Marietta College earned its 30th Ohio Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament Championship with a doubleheader sweep of nationally ranked and top-seeded Heidelberg University Saturday (May 9) afternoon.  The Pioneers outslugged the Student Princes 18-11 in the first game to force a winner take all rematch.

In addition to the league championship, the OAC's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament was also on the line. The Etta Express took the deciding game, 7-4, earning the school's 40th NCAA Tournament berth.

Marietta improves to 28-16 on the season, while Heidelberg slips to 31-12 overall. The NCAA Tournament field will be announced early Monday morning and the Student Princes will have to wait and see if they are awarded an at-large bid. Heidelberg, who has been ranked in the top two in the Mideast Region all season, should receive a bid.

Eight different Pioneers had multiple hits as Marietta battered the Heidelberg pitching staff for 22 hits in the first game of the day. The Etta Express scored in all but two innings and never trailed after the second inning.

Heidelberg made things interesting with a six-run rally in the bottom of the sixth inning to get within one run, 11-10, of the Pioneers. Marietta responded with three in the eighth and four more in the ninth to secure the win.

Freshman Austin Eaton started on the mound for the Pioneers and gave up three runs, one earned, on three hits in 2.2 innings of work. Tommy Crowl (6-3) took over and threw 2.2 innings to earn the win. Crowl allowed six runs on four hits. Staff ace Christian Herstine notched his second save of the season after throwing the final 3.2 innings. Herstine was charged with two runs on three hits and struck out six.

Tim McCoy led the Pioneer attack going 4-for-6 with a home run, two runs batted in, three runs scored and a pair of stolen bases. Chris Winpigler also launched a home run and finished 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored.

Tyler Packanik smacked two doubles and drove in three runs to go along with three runs scored. Ryan Hanahan, Jake Newton and Brandon Papp each had three hits. Papp also knocked in three runs. Mitch Geers and Chris Petrucci had two hits apiece.

Heidelberg used six different pitchers in the game. Starter Kyle Fluharty (3-5) took the loss. Fluharty allowed five runs on five hits in 2.2 innings. No Student Prince pitcher lasted more than 2.0 innings under the Pioneer barrage.

With pitching staffs depleted, another slugfest was expected in game two, but it never materialized. Sophomore Tyler Nieberding (4-3) kept the Heidelberg offense in check for 6.0 innings. He allowed three runs on eight hits for the win. Fellow sophomore Mitch McNabb allowed one unearned run over the final 3.0 innings to earn his first save.

Each team scored one run in the first inning. Marietta grabbed the lead with four in the top of the second. Papp led off with a single up the middle and then came around to score on a double from Christian Demko.

Following a ground out that moved Demko to third, Geers hit a sac fly for Marietta's second run. Hanahan kept the rally going with a single to right and then Winpigler crushed an 0-1 pitch over the leftfield wall for his second home run of the day and third of the tournament.

Derek Hug, the OAC home run leader, got the Student Princes back in the game with a two-run shot to right-center. Hug's round tripper cut the Pioneer lead to 5-3.

Geers picked up his second RBI with a run-scoring single up the middle in the top of the fourth. Geers plated McCoy who reached on a double. Geers also accounted for the Pioneers' final run with a solo home run in the ninth.

Alex Simun (3-1) started and took the loss for Heidelberg. Simun threw 4.0 innings and gave up six runs on nine hits. Derek Hendrixson, HU's staff ace, pitched the final 5.0 innings and allowed the lone run from Geers solo shot.

Geers was 2-for-4 with the home run and three RBI. Winpigler drove in two runs with a home run and finished with two hits. Hanahan and Demko also had two hits in the game.

Winpigler was named the Dick Fishbaugh Most Outstanding Player. Winpigler was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Mike Fulton, Demko, Packanik and Herstine.