Marietta College pounded out 10 hits in the opener of an Ohio Athletic Conference double header against Baldwin-Wallace Sunday as it scored a 9-6 victory, but the Pioneers were limited to just four hits in the nightcap as the Yellow Jackets claimed a 2-1 victory to earn a split.
In the first game, the Etta Express scored three times in the fifth inning and four more times in the seventh to break open a close ballgame, and then turned things over to ace pitcher Jason Byers who earned his fifth straight victory to open the season.
Trailing by a run heading into the fifth inning, Marietta College loaded the bases against BW starting pitcher Alex Albright (1-2) on a leadoff double by Chris Winpigler, a walk, and a single by right fielder Tim McCoy.
Pioneer leadoff batter Christian Demko drew a walk to force in the tying run, and Zach Bukiewicz followed with a clutch two-out, two-run double to give the Pioneers a 5-3 lead.
Mitch Geer’s hit keyed a four-run Pioneer seventh inning that saw them send 10 batters to the plate with a two-run single to increase the lead to 9-3.
After allowing three runs in the first two innings, Byers settled down and held the Jackets scoreless until back-to-back doubles by Hunter Handel and Alex Green in the eighth inning made it a 9-4 game.
Byers scattered eight hits and allowed four earned runs in his seven- plus innings of work before giving way to Jim Luyster for the final two frames.
The Shenandoah High School grad gave up a long two-run homer to Mark Zimmerman in the ninth inning but rebounded to retire the final three Baldwin Wallace hitters in order to close out the Pioneer victory.
The Pios left an astounding 16 runners on base in the opener but would not get near as many chances to dent the plate in the second game as BW starting pitcher Cory Waite limited them to just three hits and an unearned run in seven outstanding innings of work.
“A lot of credit to them as their kid (Waite) did a good job of mixing his pitches and moving the ball in and out,” said Pioneer head coach Brian Brewer. “We’ve just got to continue to clean some things up in the batter’s box.”
While Waite (2-0) was tossing a gem for the Yellow Jackets, Pioneer starter Christian Herstine (3-1) was solid on the mound as well.
The sophomore infielder-turned-pitcher allowed just a pair of runs in the sixth inning while going the distance for the Pioneers.
Marietta College scored its lone run in the sixth on a Winpigler sacrifice fly but could not dent the plate the rest of the way against either Waite or Jacket closer Brandon Cichocki who got the last six outs to notch his fourth save of the season.
“Its a shame to waste an effort like that from Herstine,” said Brewer. “It’s unfortunate to lose one like that at home but hopefully we’ll be better for it.”
The Pios are scheduled to host Mount Aloysius (Pa.) Thursday in a non-conference doubleheader.