Marietta will play for another national championship Tuesday at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wis. And for the Etta Express, this is what it has been aiming for all season.
Obviously, we are happy with what we have accomplished so far, but we know we still have to win one more game,” Marietta head coach Brian Brewer said. “We have been playing for this all season and it’s exciting to be in a position to win another win.”
Marietta (46-3) advanced to the national final with an 11-2 win against Keystone on Monday afternoon. And for the four seniors on this team, this is what they signed up for when they arrived on campus at Marietta.
Brian Gasser talked about his excitement after the win on Monday.
“I am really excited about tomorrow,“ Gasser said. “The biggest thing is to win it for the senior class. I am really eager to be able to accept the ball if given the opportunity. It is a really big game, and I love pitching in big game situations. Hopefully I can get the ball and go out and throw well tomorrow.”
John Snyder expressed similar thoughts.
“It is a big day, especially for the senior class,” Snyder said. “We worked hard to get here for four years now and it has all come down to one day. It means a lot not to just the senior class but the rest of the guys that have been behind us these last few years.”
The top-ranked Etta Express last won a national title in 2006. It also won championships in 1981, 1983 and 1986. It has won 21 consecutive games as well heading into the national final and will need to be beaten twice by Chapman in order to fall short of its title.
Marietta already beat Chapman once in the tourney, winning 9-4 in the second round. Beating the Panthers again won’t be easy.
“All these teams do certain things well and Chapman does everything well,” Brewer said. “They are very similar program wise and philosophy wise to us. They pitch it, they catch it and try to apply some pressure offensively. It is going to be a great challenge.”
Marietta is the last unbeaten team standing in the tournament, and the Etta Express got the job done by having five different players crank out two hits apiece.
Casey Levens and Snyder each tallied two hits and two RBI to help fuel the 12-hit attack.
On the mound, Mike Mahaffey pitched seven innings and did not allow a run against the Giants (38-12). He allowed three hits and struck out four in the win. Mahaffey is 3-0 on the season.
“We got a great pitching performance from Mike and we caught the ball and applied some pressure,” Brewer said. “We also swung a little cleaner today.”
Now, the Etta Express will attempt to put the exclamation point on a remarkable season. Snyder is ready for the challenge and is eager to end his career on top of the baseball mountain.
“We are pretty familiar with our opponent Chapman and we know they have a good tradition,” Snyder said. “We don’t think we need to do anything different. We just have to come out, execute our philosophy and hopefully play the cleanest nine innings we’ve played all season. I get to put the pinstripes on one more time and hopefully celebrate a championship.”