APPLETON, Wis. — Marietta took an early lead against Webster and then had to rally for a 12-7 victory to stay alive in the 2012 NCAA Division III Baseball Championships.
The win improved the Pioneers to 45-8, while Webster’s season comes to end with a 36-14 record.
Marietta scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning on a two-run single through the left side of the infield by Mitch Geers. Kirby Becker led off the inning with a walk. Tim Saunders walked and Aaron Hopper singled to load the bases for Geers.
Michael Mulvey cruised through the first three innings on the mound for the Pioneers and appeared to be on his way to a lengthy outing. However, Webster’s Taylor Stoulp tripled to center field to start the fourth inning.
13 Gorlok hitters later, Webster had plated seven runs on seven base hits to jump on top of the Pioneers, 7-2. At one point in the rally, Webster connected on five consecutive singles chasing Mulvey from the game.
The defending national champions answered right back by sending 11 hitters to the plate in the home half of the fourth inning. Alex Toth started the rally by getting hit by a pitch.
Webster wasted no time in going to the bullpen as starting pitcher Cody Hafeli was immediately pulled in favor of Steven Dooley.
Dooley walked third baseman Bryan Gregorich and surrendered a single to Becker loading the bases with no outs. Back-to-back sacrifice flies by designated hitter Josh Ungerbuehler and Saunders made it 7-4.
With the skies getting darker, Hopper and Geers hit consecutive RBI doubles to pull the Pioneers within a run of the Gorloks at 7-6. A walk to Evan Brockmeier and a hit batter from Niko Stanislav loaded the bases again.
Before Toth could make his way to the plate, the teams were pulled off the field because of lightning in the area. Following a 40-minute lightning delay, Toth put Marietta back on top, 8-7 with a two-run single through the left side.
The teams combined for 13 runs on 11 hits and sent 24 batters to the plate in the fourth inning.
Kyle Lindquist, who took over on the mound for Marietta during the crazy fourth inning, settled down and faced the minimum during the next three innings. Lindquist (2-0) would get the win pitching 4 2/3 innings and giving up one run on four hits. He walked one and struck out four.
Marietta added two runs in the sixth as Brockmeier and Gregorich each drove in a run.
Leading 10-7 and with Lindquist keeping the Gorloks’ offense in check, Geers stepped to the plate to lead off the eighth inning. Geers drove the ball to deep center field where Webster’s Cody Stevenson tried to make the catch on a full sprint.
Stevenson violently collided with the wall as the ball squirted away allowing Geers to come all the way around for an inside the park home run. Stevenson was injured on the play and had to be carted off the field.
After a delay in the action while Stevenson was cared for, Brockmeier lofted a fly ball to right field that was dropped allowing him to move over to second base. After a walk and a sacrifice bunt, Gregorich scored Brockmeier with an infield single giving Marietta a 12-7 lead.
Austin Blaski closed out the game on the mound in the ninth for the Pioneers.
Dooley (7-5) took the loss in relief of Hafeli. Dooley went four innings and gave up nine runs, eight earned, on eight hits with four walks and three strikeouts. Hafeli tossed three innings and was charged with three runs on three hits. He walked three and did not strikeout a Pioneer batter.
Geers led the Pioneer offense going 3-for-4 with a double, home run, four runs batted in and three runs scored. Becker, Hopper, Toth and Gregorich all had two hits apiece.