MARIETTA - Mike Mahaffey got stronger as the game went on.
After a shaky opening inning, the 6-foot-1 senior right-hander settled down and pitched Marietta College to a 6-3 triumph over Manchester College (Ind.) in a Mideast Regional Tournament baseball game at Don Schaly Stadium Saturday.
"The first inning, a lot of nerves," said Mahaffey, who gave up two first-inning runs. "But I bounced back. A lot of energy in the stadium helped me out."
Photo courtesy of Eric Lindquist
Marietta College’s Josh Ungerbuehler swings at a pitch against Manchester College during the Mideast Regional Tournament at Don Schaly Stadium. The Pioneers won, 6-3.
In an earlier elimination game Saturday, defending national champion MC - No. 1-ranked in NCAA Division III with a 42-7 record - defeated St. John Fisher, 9-2, to earn a matchup with Manchester, which was unbeaten in regional play.
With Marietta pinning Manchester with its first tourney setback, the two schools are now scheduled to hook up at 1 p.m. today at Don Schaly Stadium with a regional championship and berth in the World Series in Grande Chute, Wis., on the line.
"Mike came out today, and he could've very easily thrown the first game (vs. St. John Fisher) today, but just stayed where he needed to stay mentally and physically, and was just spectacular," said Pioneer head coach Brian Brewer. "I can't be more proud of him."
Marietta College 6, Manchester 3
at Don Schaly Stadium
Marietta 021 000 012 - 6 11 0
Manchester 200 000 001 - 3 6 0
WP: Mike Mahaffey (6-2) ip8.1 h5, r3, er3, bb3, so9
Save: Logan Lewis ip.2, h1, so2
LP: Bryce Murphy (8-3) ip8, h11, r6, er6, bb6, so3
Brian Tarnoski ip1, bb1, so1
Marietta (42-7) hitting: Kirby Becker 2-5, 2rbi; Josh Ungerbuehler 2-4, double; Tim Saunders 2-4, double, 2 runs; Matt Moormeier, rbi; Evan Brockmeier 1-4, rbi; Jordan Grilliot, rbi; Bryan Gregorich 1-4, rbi
Manchester (28-20) hitting: Robert Heirtz 1-3, 2rbi; Cody Schell 1-3, rbi; Bryce Murphy 1-3, double
Next game: Marietta vs. Manchester at 1 p.m. today in a Mideast Regional final
Marietta 9, St. John Fisher 2
Marietta 012 120 120 - 9 15 2
St. John Fisher 100 100 000 - 2 5 1
WP: Austin Blaski ip6, h4, r2, er2, bb2, so2
Logan Lewis ip3, h1, so2
LP: Adam Pettinella ip4, h6, r5, er4, so3
Tim Sylvester ip2.2, h5, r2,er2, so1
Jeremy Willard ip.2, h2, r2, er2
Ryan Smith ip1.2, h2
Marietta (41-7) hitting: Becker 2-4, 2 runs; Ungerbuehler 1-3; Saunders 3-4, double, 3rbi, 2 runs; Aaron Hopper rbi; Mitch Geers 2-4, 2 doubles, rbi; Moormeier 1-1; Brockmeier 2-4, double, rbi; Alex Toth 2-4, home run
In eight and one-third innings of work on the hill, Mahaffey (6-2) fanned nine, walked three and allowed five hits, including only three after the first inning. Logan Lewis relieved and picked up his third save of the season.
At the plate, Kirby Becker, Josh Ungerbuehler, and Tim Saunders each had two hits for the Etta Express. Becker also drove in two runs, while Evan Brockmeier, Jordan Grilliot, Bryan Gregorich and Matt Moormeier each had one RBI.
Manchester got off to a good start when Bryce Murphy doubled, Brad Murphy singled, and Corey Marchant was hit by a Mahaffey pitch to load the bases with nobody out.
Mahaffey got Jordan Nieman to line out to center, but then gave up an RBI single to Cody Schell. After slipping a called third strike past Trevor Kimm, the MC righty walked Robert Heirtz to force in a Spartan run, making it 2-0.
Mahaffey finally got out of the jam by getting Nathan Felver to fly out to left.
"Before the game today, (third base) coach (Mike) Deegan said the goal today was to minimize," Mahaffey said. "You know, if we get into trouble, we've got minimize. Giving up two runs with the bases loaded and no outs, I was OK with that. To get out of it and minimizing it was the main thing."
Rick Espeset was happy with two runs, but would've preferred more on the scoreboard.
"Mahaffey did a nice job," the Manchester skipper said. "We scored two which we felt pretty good about, but if I'm in their (Marietta) dugout, I'd take that after the bases were loaded with nobody out.
"It would've been nice to get a few more runs, and put a little heat and pressure on them."
Marietta got the tying runs in the top of the second on Becker's two-run single off Manchester southpaw Bryce Murphy. The Pioneers then took the lead 3-2 in the third when Evan Brockmeier singled home Tim Saunders.
After the first, Mahaffey pitched seven scoreless innings, and Manchester didn't seriously stage a scoring threat during any of those frames.
"I was getting ahead with the curve and the offspeed," he said. "The best thing was having command of the fastball. Having three or four pitches and being able to throw them whenever you want."
Marietta got a big insurance run in the eighth when Bryan Gregorich singled home Brockmeier to make it 4-2. Then in the ninth, the Pioneers added two more with Moormeier walking with the bases loaded and Grilliot plating another on a groundout.
Manchester finally got to Mahaffey in the ninth with a one-out walk and single. Reliever Lewis gave up a run-scoring double to Heirtz, but then fanned the next two Spartan batters to seal the victory.
Against St. John Fisher, Marietta ace Austin Blaski got the nod on the hill after pitching and winning Wednesday's regional opener. In six innings of work, he struck out two, walked two and allowed four hits. Lewis relieved and pitched three scoreless frames.
Offensively, Saunder had three hits and drove in three. Alex Toth, Mitch Geers, Becker, and Brockmeier each added two hits. Toth had a solo home run in the eighth while Geers stroked two doubles.
St. John Fisher, which beat Marietta 5-2 on Thursday, was led by Steven Karnyski, who had three of the Cardinals' five hits, including a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first.
St. John Fisher exits with a 31-12 mark.