Pios homer twice to beat Wooster, 9-5

Marietta College played powerball.

Jordan Grilliot and Aaron Hopper each homered in the first inning as the No. 8 and two-time defending national champion Pioneers defeated the College of Wooster, 9-5, in non-conference baseball action at Don Schaly Stadium Thursday night.

“That first inning set the tone,” said MC skipper Brian Brewer, “and it helped our freshman pitcher (Christian Herstine) by allowing us to do some things offensively and putting his mind a little at ease on the mound. I think he fed off it, and we fed off it.

“It’s a good win for us and the program.”

The right-handed-throwing Herstine (1-0) made his first start as a Pioneer varsity hurler, and got the win. In five innings of work, he struck out three, walked three and allowed five earned runs. Mike Mulvey and Evan Brockmeier each tossed two frames of scoreless relief.

Mitch Geers stroked three hits, and Bryan Gregorich and Tyler Packanik each added two knocks for the Mideast Region’s No. 1 Etta Express.

Wooster lefty Patrick Boyle suffered the mound setback, and Eddie Reese led the Scots (22-9) with two hits and two RBIs.

MC, which improved to 22-8 overall on the season, roughed up Boyle early when the left-handed-swinging Grilliot led off the bottom of the first with a solo shot on a payoff pitch to right center. Grilliot’s round tripper was his team-leading fourth of the season.

After Brockmeier walked, Hopper blasted his first homer of the campaign, also to right center. The ball actually hit the top of the fence and bounded over.

“The wind was blowing out in right center and when you get it up in the jet stream, you’re going to get a couple of those (home runs),” Brewer said.

Marietta wasn’t through with Boyle as Geers singled to center, and came around to score on Gregorich’s two-out triple to right, making it 4-0.

“We had a good start, and we maintained it,” Brewer said. “We didn’t put up a ton of runs in the middle or late innings but we still had some good at-bats.”

The Etta Express stretched its lead to 6-0 with two more runs in the bottom of the second with Alex Toth driving in one of them with a double to left. Packanik scored the other on a Wooster fielding error.

The Scots finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the third when Reese singled home Jarrod Mancine. But the Pioneers got that back in the bottom half of the frame when Gregorich plated Tim McCoy with a sacrifice fly to right.

MC made it 8-1 in the fourth when Brockmeier beat out a bunt, advanced to second on a groundout, and came around to score on Geers’ double to left.

Wooster had a four-run fifth on a bat-around to cut it to 8-5. Zac Mathie, Craig Day, Johnathan Ray, and Reese each drove in a run for the Scots.

“He (Herstine) gave us pretty much what we hoped for,” Brewer said, “and allowed us to do some things at the back end.

“The difference was, early on, he was getting strike one and ahead of the hitters. Then he started getting behind and up a little bit, and Wooster’s a good enough team offensively that they hit some balls on the nose.”

Capping all the scoring in the contest in the bottom of the fifth, Marietta’s Christian Demko doubled and legged it home on Packanik’s RBI hit to left.

OAC first-place (11-3) Marietta College is scheduled to host second-place (10-4) Baldwin-Wallace in a league twinball at 1 p.m. Saturday, also Community Day. Brockmeier is slated to pitch in the opener and Mulvey in the nightcap.