What just happened?
LaRoche College roughing up Marietta College ace right-hander Austin Blaski for two first-inning runs?
But that's exactly how MC's Mideast Regional opener started at Don Schaly Stadium Wednesday with LaRoche's Shane Healey leading off the game with a single and coming around to score on Casey Zimmerman's triple to deep center field.
One out later, Zimmerman scored on Ryan Fennell's groundout to second.
After retiring the side, Blaski, who owned a 10-1 record and 0.65 ERA going into the contest, pounded his glove. The 6-foot-4 senior was not a happy camper to say the least.
After a scoreless bottom half of the frame, the Pioneers trailed 2-0. But it was only the beginning, and top-ranked and defending national champion Marietta had the rest of the game to catch up.
Turns out, the Pioneers would only need one more inning to do that, the second, when they plated two to tie the score. In doing so, they capitalized on three Tyler Ferguson wild pitches as LaRoche catcher Matt Sabitini got a workout chasing down the throws.
What just happened here?
Well, all of a sudden, the momentum of the game shifted and after Marietta surged ahead with four runs in the third, it never looked back and eventually won 12-3.
Highlighting the comeback, MC's Josh Ungerbuehler slugged a back-breaking, three-run homer in the fourth inning, and finished with six runs-batted-in in the contest.
Meanwhile, it is often said in baseball circles that if a team can't get to a real good pitcher early, it's probably not going to get to him at all.
Sometimes it takes a hurler an inning or two to get warmed up and into a groove or rhythym.
After the opening inning, Blaski settled down. In seven innings of work, he fanned 11 and walked one. Luke Langdon finished up throwing two scorless innings.
Interestingly, in last week's Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament opener at Don Schaly Stadium, Blaski gave up a second-inning home run (his first of the season) to John Carroll University's Ryan Konsler, and the Pioneers trailed 1-0 going into the bottom half of the frame.
After Marietta answered with two runs to take a 2-1 lead, the Etta Express and Blaski cruised to an 8-1 triumph.
So, what just happened?
Well, while Marietta "lost" the first inning to LaRoche, it came charging back to win the game.
And, that's all that matters to the No. 1 NCAA Division III baseball team in the nation.
St. John Fisher opened up regional play Wednesday morning with a 13-7 triumph over Westminster (Pa.). The Cardinals can swing the bats as they had 18 hits.
Marietta righty and ace Brian Gasser (9-2, 3.27 ERA) is expected to toe the rubber for the Pioneers. In his last outing on the hill against Heidelberg University in last week's OAC Tournament, he was the winning hurler in a 15-1 MC rout.
"I love seeing run support, especially early," said Gasser after the Heidelberg win. "That's what boosts my confidence. but then again you know we've been known to have some long innings. That can kind of take a toll in getting cold a little bit.
"I had my arm wrapped to keep it warm. I've been known to go down to the bullpen to toss an inning. It wasn't too bad. I love seeing a lot of runs, but you have to sit through it and hope your arm stays loose."
Another 15 runs today would suit Gasser and the Pioneers just fine.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org