Prep baseball: MHS hosts Philo in season opener Saturday

Adam McKnight is scheduled to get the starting nod on the hill when Marietta High hosts Philo in its season and home opener at Legion Field in the Fairgrounds at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Thing is, though, the right-handed-throwing McKnight is not expected to pitch the seven-inning distance.

“We plan to use ‘Johnny Wholestaff’ led by Adam McKnight,” said veteran MHS baseball skipper Jim Thrash. “This will set us up for a busy first week of four games in five days.”

After Philo, the Tigers are slated to play at Alexander Monday, return home to face Morgan (Tuesday) and Zanesville (Wednesday), and then go back on the road to Dover (Friday). The ZHS and Dover contests are East Central Ohio League (ECOL) tilts.

Pitching by committee has been pretty much the norm for the Tigers in the preseason. In a March 18 scrimmage at Caldwell in Noble County, Thrash used eight hurlers for eight innings.

“The pitching was solid, except for two innings when walks and errors allowed Caldwell to put runs on the board,” Thrash said.

Offensively, Thrash said the Tigers “were able to put the ball in play, run aggressively, and scored some runs.” Turner Hill and McKnight were the orange and black’s top sticks.

Marietta also hosted a three-way exhibition last Saturday against Lake Catholic and Federal Hocking.

“As might be expected of a largely inexperienced varsity team, we have been up and down on both (scrimmage) dates,” Thrash said.

Against Lake Catholic, McKnight, Zach Robinson, Corey Hill and Michael Ullman all pitched, allowing a combined six runs.

At the plate, the Tigers managed just one hit.

“We did have a few runners on by walks or errors and did steal some bases,” Thrash said. “Too many Ks – 10 of our 18 outs.”

In Game 2 versus Fed Hock, there was significant improvement. With all underclassmen throwing, Marietta blanked the Lancers in six innings. Freshmen Isaac Danford, Trent Dawson, junior Hill, and sophomore Jacob Erb each took a turn toeing the rubber.

“We also managed to score several runs using aggressive baserunning and timely hits,” Thrash said. “Zach Robinson and Austin Hefter were our leading hitters.”

Marietta is scheduled to cap preseason play against visiting Eastern at Legion Field at 5 p.m. today.

“This week we’ve been working hard on defense – fielding ground balls, chasing flyballs, bunt coverages, outfield relays, pickoffs and more to be ready for the season opener,” Thrash said. “If our pitching staff can accomplish what we’ve been emphasizing – getting ahead of hitters and throwing to the low zone, our defense must be steady.

“Our hitting will get better as our young players see more and more varsity pitchers, and we plan to be an aggressive running team in our attempt to score more runs this year.”

Against the Electrics on opening day, Marietta’s other probable starters will be Josh Moretto (C), Hefter (1B), Dawson (2B), Danford (SS), Robinson (3B), Ullman (LF), Hill (CF), and Brandon Neville (RF).

Notes: The Opening Day 5k is being held at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. The start/finish line is at the ballfields… The JV game will start at noon with varsity contest to follow…Former MHS head baseball coach Larry Burke will throw out first pitch for our 2014 season. He is home this weekend to watch his boys – Larry Jr. and Brandon – in the Marietta High Alumni Basketball Tournament.