APPLETON, Wis. — A bases loaded walk in the bottom of the tenth inning gave Marietta a 6-5 come-from-behind victory against previously unbeaten Wheaton (Mass.) on Tuesday afternoon at Fox Cities Stadium.
Three teams are still standing in the eight-team double elimination 2012 NCAA Division III Baseball Championship. Wheaton, Marietta and St. Thomas each have one loss in the national tournament.
The Pioneers will face St. Thomas (Minn.) on Wednesday at noon ET. Marietta will be looking to avenge Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Tommies. The winner will square off against Wheaton for the national championship at 3:30 p.m ET.
With Tuesday’s victory, Marietta is now 46-8 on the season, while Wheaton drops to 41-10 overall.
The Pioneers loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the second inning. Aaron Hopper led off with a walk, Mitch Geers singled up the middle and Evan Brockmeier singled to right. Niko Stanislav then grounded into a double play, but Hopper was able to score giving the Pioneers a 1-0 lead.
Wheaton would go to turn four double plays in the game to keep the Marietta offense in check.
The Lyons got on the board with a run in the fourth and two more in the fifth. Wheaton’s Apolinar De la Cruz reached on a two-out single to left in the fourth. Dan Gusovsky followed with a triple to right scoring De la Cruz.
John Keating led off the fifth with a single to center field. Dan Demeo dropped down a bunt and was credited with a base hit when none of the Pioneers were able to get a glove on the ball. Hal Landers laid down a sacrifice bunt but Austin Blaski slipped while fielding the ball and was not able to throw Landers out at first.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Eric Jensen hit a sac fly to center scoring Keating. An RBI single from Sean Ryan plated Demeo and gave Wheaton a 3-1 lead.
Marietta answered back with three runs in the sixth to retake the lead 4-3. Kirby Becker started the rally with a lead off walk. Josh Ungerbuehler and Tim Saunders both singled to load the bases. Becker scored on Hopper’s RBI fielder’s choice. After Geers was beaned to reload the bases, Brockmeier followed with a two-run single to left.
The Pioneer lead was short-lived as Jenson doubled into the left center gap scoring Demeo, who reached on a single. Logan Lewis replaced Blaski on the mound and surrendered an RBI single to Dan Haugh.
Like a couple of heavyweight prizefighters trading blows in the center of the ring, Marietta tied the game with a run in the home half of the seventh.
Ungerbuehler reached on a fielder’s choice and stole second. Hopper laced a single to left field scoring Ungerbuehler and tying the game, 5-5.
Both teams stranded two runners on base in the eighth inning. Kyle Lindquist took over on the mound for Marietta in the ninth and retired Wheaton in order. The Pioneers got a lead off walk in the bottom of the ninth but quickly lined into a double play.
The Lyons threatened in the tenth with a pair of base hits, but a fly out to Hopper in center field ended the inning.
Alex Toth started the tenth with a walk. Bryan Gregorich sacrificed Toth to second and reached base when the throw pulled the Lyon first baseman off the bag. Zach Bukiewicz ran for Toth at second. Becker moved both runners up 90 feet with a sac bunt.
Wheaton elected to intentionally walk Ungerbuehler, bringing Saunders to the plate. Freshman pitcher Ben Johnson fell behind in the count 3-0 to the Pioneer All-American. A called strike and a foul ball ran the count full at 3-2. Johnson’s next pitch was high walking Saunders and scoring Bukiewicz with the winning run.
Lindquist (3-0) picked up the win in relief. He pitched two innings and allowed two hits with a strike out. Blaski started and threw 6.1 innings giving up five earned runs on eight hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Lewis tossed 1.2 innings of shutout relief allowing three hits and a walk.
Mike McGinnis started for the Lyons and went 5.2 innings. He was charged with four earned runs on seven hits. McGinnis walked three and struck out three. Johnson (0-1) was tagged with the loss. He worked 1.1 innings and gave up one run on one hit, but he walked four.
Marietta collected 10 hits, all singles, as Saunders went 3-for-5. Geers and Brockmeier each had two hits.