Pioneers roll: Marietta College tops Montclair State, 18-1

The last time the Marietta College baseball team squared off against Montclair State pitcher Dylan Papa, the junior lefty hurled a complete game shutout as the Red hawks won 2-0.

Friday at Don Schaly Stadium, the No. 4 nationally ranked and two-time defending national champion Etta Express adjusted well, to say the least.

The Pioneers (8-3) surged for nine runs in the first three innings and added nine more in the seventh frame to claim an 18-1 blowout victory over the Red Hawks (5-4).

Sophomore southpaw Stephen Bascom (3-1) pitched seven innings of four hit, one run ball to pick up the victory.

“He’s had two or three starts and I think we’ve gotten quality starts out of him all three times,” said Marietta head coach Brian Brewer. “We’d like to see him throw a few more strikes. He still was a little bit behind in some counts today which is not the type of pitcher he needs to be. If he can continue to command the strike zone a little bit better he’s got a chance to be pretty good for us.”

Papa (2-2) lasted just 2.2 innings, surrendering nine runs (six earned) en route to suffering the loss.

“We kind of figured we were gonna see (Papa) so we tried to address some issues this week offensively,” Brewer said. “Two strike approach, waiting on our pitch. He obviously wasn’t on today, wasn’t locating like he did a week ago or whatever it was. We made the most of his mistakes and some of our older guys came up with some big knocks which was really good to see. So a lot to be positive about.”

Friday’s contest was the home opener for the Etta Express, and the home crowd was treated with a dominant performance. The first 100 people in attendance were also given a free tee shirt courtesy of BSN Sports.

While the fans were being handed shirts, the Pioneers were handing out a beating.

After seniors Jordan Grilliot and Evan Brockmeier led off the game with back-to-back singles, classmate Aaron Hopper brought them in with a double to the warning track in left-center field.

Hopper then came around to score on a two-bagger by junior Josh Ungerbuehler, and Ungerbuehler crossed the plate on a double down the left field line by senior Alex Toth to complete the four run first.

MC tacked on four more runs in the second inning to blow the game open. With two on and two out, Ungerbuehler doubled to center to bring in Grilliot and Hopper. Ungerbuehler advanced to third on an infield single to third base by sophomore Mitch Geers, but a wild throw to first allowed Ungerbuehler to score and Geers to go to second. Geers would later come around to score on an RBI single to center by senior Bryan Gregorich.

Marietta made it 9-0 in the bottom of the third when Hopper singled through the left side to score Grilliot.

“It really helps to come out early and put up runs because it kind of puts pressure on the offense and the defense as well,” Hopper said.

Montclair State finally got on the board in the top of the sixth. Senior Jose Padilla led off with a solo homerun to left field to cut it to a 9-1 game. That was all she wrote offensively for the Red Hawks, as they would not score another run.

To erase any possibility of a Montclair comeback, the Pios sent across nine more runners in the seventh frame to make it 18-1.

With the bases loaded and nobody out, freshman Tyler Packanik and sophomore Ryan Hanahan each drew walks to bring in runs. Grilliot and Hopper would each double later in the inning to bring in a total of five more runs. Sophomore Chris Winpigler and Gregorich each grounded into fielder’s choices to produce the final two runs of the inning.

Freshmen pitchers Mike Finlan and Jordan Carithers each pitched a scoreless inning to close out the game and seal the win for defending national champs.

Hopper finished the game 3-4 at the plate with six runs batted in and three runs scored. He also came up with two doubles, giving him 52 for his career which makes him fourth all-time in school history.

“I just really focused on trying to see the ball deep,” Hopper said. “I knew their pitchers weren’t gonna necessarily throw the ball by you, so I just told myself to have a backside approach and really see the ball deep. It seemed to work out well so I plan on sticking with that from here on out.”

Up next for Marietta will be a double header today against No. 20 Huntingdon College. The teams are scheduled to play two nine inning games, starting at 1 p.m. at Don Schaly.

“We’re expecting a really good opponent coming in here (today),” Brewer said. “We’re gonna see some good arms and we’re excited about the challenge.”