PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Top-ranked Marietta survived a ninth-inning scare and held on for a 5-4 win against Denison on Monday. Marietta improves to 5-1, while the Big Red fall to 3-4 overall.

Defense was the difference in the game as Denison committed seven miscues that resulted in four of Marietta’s five runs. The Big Red was able to capitalize on the Pioneers’ one error with two unearned runs in the eighth inning.

Pitching dominated the first six innings. Denison starter Connor Murphy allowed one run on two hits through six. The Pioneers’ run came in the second inning when Evan Brockmeier was hit by a pitch and then scored when Alex Toth ripped a double just inside the third base bag and into the left-field corner.

The Pioneers threatened again in the sixth inning when Aaron Hopper and Brockmeier both reached base on errors. But Murphy was able to work out of danger with a ground ball.

Defense again hurt Denison as two errors in the top of the seventh led to three Pioneer runs. Bryan Gregorich reached on an error by the Denison third baseman. Andrew Coffey sacrificed Gregorich to second but the throw to first ended up down the line allowing Gregorich to score and Coffey to advance all the way to third base.

A wild pitch plated Coffey giving Marietta a 3-0 lead. Pinch hitter Josh Ungerbuehler walked and moved to second on a single off the bat of Kirby Becker. Jordan Grilliot dropped down a sacrifice bunt and all hands were safe as Ungerbuehler beat the throw at third. Tim Saunders grounded into a double play allowing Ungerbuehler to score and extending the lead to 4-0.

Senior Mike Mahaffey (2-0) started on the mound for Marietta and picked up his second win of the season. Mahaffey took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and held the shutout through seven innings of work.

Trailing 4-0 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning with just two hits off Mahaffey, Denison appeared to be on the ropes. Ryan Mulligan pinch hit for the Big Red to start the eighth and singled to center. An error by the Pioneers’ shortstop and a ground out gave Denison runners at second and third with one out.

Andrew Mahle grounded out to Becker at second base driving in Mulligan and moving Tyler Nicholson to third. A Mahaffey wild pitch allowed Nicholson to score and cut the Pioneer lead to 4-2 heading to the ninth.

Coffey led off the ninth for the Pioneers and reached on an error by the second baseman. Ungerbuehler’s base hit bunt and a second error by the Denison second baseman allowed Coffey to move around to third base. Grilliot knocked in Coffey with a ground ball to short giving Marietta a 5-2 lead.

Mahaffey went 8.0 innings and allowed two unearned runs on three hits. He walked one and struck out six. Brockmeier started the ninth on the hill for the Pioneers but didn’t record an out.

Evan Nicholson singled to start the inning. A walk to Kyle Clemmenson and a single by Justin Vaske loaded the bases with nobody out and chased Brockmeier from the hill.

The Pioneers brought in senior Austin Blaski to finish the game. Pinch hitter Lowell Hall singled to center off of Blaski scoring two and making it a one-run game 5-4.

A failed sacrifice bunt attempt and a fly out to left field had the Big Red down to their last out with the tying run at second and the winning run at first. Danny Kraus drilled a sinking line drive in the hole at short but Saunders was able to make a diving catch ending the threat and securing the win for the Pioneers.

Blaski got his first save of the season after pitching one inning and giving up no runs on one hit. Brockmeier was charged with two runs, both earned, on two hits and a walk.

Toth was the only hitter for either team to collect two hits. He ended the day 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. His double was the only extra base hit of the game as Marietta managed four hits and Denison had six.