It was the tale of two games for Marietta College Wednesday.
Three pitchers combined to throw a shutout as the Etta Express won game one of a doubleheader against Frostburg State, 3-0, at Don Schaly Stadium. The Pioneers weren't nearly as impressive in the nightcap as they dropped a 7-1 decision to the Bobcats, who built a 6-0 lead after two innings and never looked back.
"We've just got to get better," said Marietta College head coach Brian Brewer. "We've got to continue to get better offensively, philosophically and just flat out productivity-wise.
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Marietta College’s Mitch Geers, right, takes an attempted pickoff throw from Pioneer pitcher Jim Luyster (not pictured) during action at Don Schaly Stadium Wednesday.
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Marietta College reliever Jim Luyster delivers a pitch to a Frostburg hitter during action at Don Schaly Stadium Wednesday.
"There's a lot of areas we can improve in and I guess, at the end of the day, that's encouraging because we know we're than what we've played thus far."
Christian Herstine, Kordell Antill and Jason Byers pitched three innings apiece in Marietta's win. Starter Herstine scattered four hits in the opening three innings but struck out four and kept Frostburg off the board. Antill, who was awarded his first collegiate pitching win, tossed the middle three innings for the Pios while left-hander Jason Byers worked the last three innings to earn his second save of the season.
"When we run Christian and Jason out there, I think there's a little bit of confidence and a little swagger going on that allows us to play a little more relaxed and with confidence," said Brewer, who wanted to get Herstine and Byers some work going in to this Saturday's twinbill against John Carroll.
"They've gotta throw. We had a really light weekend with the holiday and rather than throw their bullpen midweek we just decided to get them out there today on the mound."
Tyler Packanik scored the first run of the day in the bottom of the fourth inning when he hit a 1-out triple to center field and then scored on a wild pitch. Two batters later, left-handed batting Tim McCoy hammered a homerun over the right field fence to make it a 2-0 game.
The Pioneers added an insurance run in the seventh. Ryan Hanahan led off the inning with a single and advanced to third base on Josh Ungerbuehler's base hit to put runners on the corners with one out. Hanahan came in to score when one of Frostburg reliever Kyle McCormack's offerings got away from the catcher to put MC up 3-0.
"We competed," Brewer said. "We were pretty clean defensively. I think we had one or two miscues there in game one, but played pretty well.
"For the most part it was clean and that's what we have to do. We have to be a clean team and try to apply pressure to make other teams not so clean."
Frostburg starter Austin Poretz went six innings and surrendered only two runs but was tagged with the loss. He struck out seven and walked one.
Ungerbuehler went a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate in game one, McCoy went 3-for-4 with the dinger and Hanahan and Packanik had two hits each.
"I was just trying to get the right pitch to attack and not try to do too much with it," said Ungerbuehler, who leads Marietta with a .367 batting average. "Just staying simple in the box, getting my pitch and driving it."
The Pioneers faced a 4-0 deficit before they even got to take a swing in the game two. Starting pitcher Mike Finlan struggled to get outs, giving up three hits, two walks and four earned runs while only retiring one batter before being given the hook.
Reliever Jim Luyster got out of the first inning without giving up further damage but Frostburg touched him up for two runs in the second to pull ahead 6-0.
Working with a 6-run cushion, Bobcats starter Kenny Georgius was dominant. The big right-hander lasted eight innings, striking out seven, walking two and allowing just one run on six hits.
"(Frostburg) played well," Brewer said. "They did some things. (Georgius) was pretty good. That was their No. 1 and he threw the ball pretty well.
"Down 6-0 or 7-0 early, you're handicapped a little bit with what you can do on the bases. You've got to hit your way back into those things. Game two, a ton of flyballs and some strikeouts - that's just not a healthy combination for us."
Ricky Castro went 3-for-5 to lead Frostburg while teammates Zach Weiss, Dylan Shupe and Brandon Remalia all recorded two base knocks.
Hanahan went 2-for-3 and drove in the only run of the game for Marietta. Mitch Geers scored the run after doubling in the eighth inning.
The Pioneers are now 23-11 overall after the split while Frostburg is just half a game better at 24-11.
Marietta, second in the Ohio Athletic Conference, turns its attention to a key showdown against third-place John Carroll on Saturday. The twinbill is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.