With a convenience store overall record of 7-11, Marietta High will be hoping to taste victory against Warren for the first time this spring in today's scheduled 5 p.m. baseball sectional opener in Vincent.
If the No. 6-seeded Tigers are to prevail, they'll almost certainly have to play pretty close to a mistake-free game. But then again, it is the postseason, which can often be unforgiving with regard to an error of action or judgment on the diamond. A fielding miscue here and a walk there for example can be the difference between "moving on or going home."
During Southeastern Ohio Athletic League play, MHS was 0-2 versus the No. 3-seeded Warriors, dropping a 13-11 decision at Legion Field on April 25 and a 6-3 count in Vincent on May 2. Both games were relatively close, and in the first one, the Tigers even enjoyed a 3-0 first-inning advantage before fading.
In the second Washington County big school contest a week ago, the orange and black nine never led.
"We didn't play well at Warren, but we got them now in tournament play," said MHS co-skipper Larry Burke after the Tigers defeated visiting Portsmouth 8-3 in an SEOAL game last Thursday. "And, we're still making mistakes."
Actually, after getting off to a slow start this season, Marietta has been playing good ball of late, winning four of its last six games, including one stretch of three in a row.
"We're trying to get rolling and build some momentum for tournament time," said MHS center fielder Tim Grosel after the Portsmouth game.
Unfortunately, the Tigers followed up the Trojan win with a 9-4 setback to the Parkersburg Big Reds (10-9) in a non-conference game at Bennett Stump Field in City Park last Friday night.
Marietta is expected to start Coleman Hupp (4-3. 2.39 ERA, 42 strikeouts) on the hill. The senior righty was roughed up by the Warriors in the first meeting, giving up nine hits and 10 runs (six earned).
Hupp, however, pitched a 7-inning, complete game win against Portsmouth, and looked pretty sharp in the process, fanning eight and walking one.
"Everything was just clicking," said Hupp afterward. "It was a good team win."
Burke agreed and added, "Cole has to keep the ball down to be successful. He did a nice job for us."
If Hupp mixes his pitches and throws like he did against the Trojans, the Tigers have got a legitimate shot against the Warriors. Of course, "if" is the operative word.
The orange and black nine will also need to play good defense behind Hupp. It had three errors against the Big Reds.
"Our defense has been improving," Burke said.
Warren, meanwhile, is having a solid campaign with an 11-4 overall mark. The Mark Farr-coached Warriors are coming off an 11-1 win over Logan last Thursday.
Tyler Proctor, one of the best all-around baseball players in the Mid-Ohio Valley, was the winning pitcher in the first game against Marietta, while Ian Zoeller got the victory in the second meeting.
The Warriors will be the favorite to advance in tourney play. But it's a brand new season now, so don't count the 7-11 Tigers out.
The Warren-Marietta winner is slated to play the Unioto-Jackson winner at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org