Pioneers split doubleheader vs. Huntingdon

Mike Mulvey tossed eight and a third strong innings and Josh Ungerbuehler and Aaron Hopper provided the offense as the Marietta College Pioneers downed the Huntingdon College (Alabama) Hawks 9-2 in the second game of a double header Saturday afternoon at Don Schaly Stadium.

Mulvey scattered eight hits and allowed just two second inning runs as the sixth ranked Etta Express rebounded from a disappointing 6-5 loss in the opener to gain a split against the 20th ranked Hawks.

“We let one get away obviously in game one,” said Pioneer head coach Brian Brewer. “The second game was a good win, a good answer. We played a lot better and Mike (Mulvey) was great on the mound.”

The Pioneers fell behind 4-0 in the opener as Huntingdon scored an unearned run in the opening inning before adding a run in the fourth and a pair of runs in the fifth on a two-run triple by center fielder Evan Agnew.

The Pioneers got three of those runs back in their half of the fifth on a two-run double from left fielder Jordan Grilliot and an error by HC shortstop Austin White.

Marietta College went right back to work in the sixth when with one out Bryan Gregorich was hit by a pitch and second baseman Tyler Packanik followed with one of the three singles he collected in the opening game.

After Huntingdon starting pitcher Craig Brown struck out Pioneer shortstop Christian Demko, the Hawks elected to bring Cory Belyeu in from the bullpen to face Grilliot.

Grilliot worked Belyeu for a walk to load the bases and Marietta native Evan Brockmeier followed with a clutch two-run single to give the Pios a 5-4 lead.

MC starting pitcher Jason Byers gave the Pioneers seven quality innings before turning the ball over to Brockmeier in the eight inning.

Brockmeier escaped trouble in the eighth inning when Grant Brown lined into an ending inning double play, but wasn’t quite as fortunate in the top of the ninth.

Caleb Astin reached base on an error by Demko, the third Pioneer error in the opener to start the final frame, but Brockmeier fanned Huntingdon slugger Joseph Odom and induced clean up hitter Trey Smith to ground into a fielders choice for the second out.

With the Hawks down to their final out, first baseman Tyler Blackwell drilled a double into the gap in right centerfield to tie the game at 5-5.

White made up for his earlier error in a big way as the senior shortstop lined a base hit up the middle to plate Blackwell with the go ahead run.

Closer Neil Lawler came on to retire the Pioneers in order in the last of the ninth to extend the Huntingdon winning streak to nine games in a row.

“We really didn’t come out with the fire and the energy we would have liked in game one,” said Brewer of the Pios third loss in their last five games. “We have an advantage of playing at home and there is some history and tradition here and we have to make the most of it from pitch one and we didn’t do that today.”

The Pioneers came out with plenty of fire and energy in game two as Ungerbuehler’s two-run double gave MC the early 2-0 lead.

Huntingdon evened things up in the top of the second on a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly off the bat of right fielder Seth Currie.

The Pioneers regained the lead for good in the last of the third as Hopper and Ungerbuehler led off the inning with back-to-back singles and one out later freshman right fielder delivered a tie breaking two-run triple.

When Currie’s throw got away from Astin at second base, McCoy came all the way around to score and give the Pioneers a 5-2 lead.

The three-run cushion would prove to be more than enough for Mulvey who seemed to get better as they game went on as he retired 19-of 21 hitters in one stretch from the second inning through the eighth.

“They (Huntingdon) are probably one of the best lineups we have faced all year,”said Mulvey, who improved his record to 3-0 on the season with the victory. “I was able to establish the strike zone early and to keep the ball down to their big hitters.”

Mulvey walked just one hitter and fanned three.

The Pios made it 7-2 with a pair of runs in the fourth and added two more insurance runs in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Hopper and an RBI single by Ungerbuehler.

Hopper went 4-4 in game two with a run scored and a pair of RBI’s, while Ungerbuehler added three hits and three runs batted in.

The Pioneers played most of the double header without the services of Alex Toth as the MC catcher suffered an injury to his eye that required stitches as he attempted to flag down a pop up in the opening inning of game one.

The split left the Pioneers with a 9-4 mark on the season while the Hawks head home with a 16-6 mark.

Next up for the Pioneers is another home double header against Kenyon on Tuesday with first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m.