APPLETON, Wis. – Marietta College, the most storied program in Division III baseball history, officially welcomed Whitworth to the NCAA Division III finals with a 13-2 win over the Pirates on Friday night in the tournament's opening round at Fox Cities Stadium.
The Pioneers, the defending champions and top-ranked team this season, hammered out 22 hits against Pirate pitchers. Austin Blaski, the NCAA Division III Pitcher of the Year, held Whitworth scoreless over the first six innings on only two hits.
Whitworth started with Dan Scheibe on the mound and the freshman righthander kept Marietta off of the scoreboard for the first two innings despite giving up a pair of hits in each inning. But Aaron Hopper got the Pioneers on the board in the top of the third with a two-run homer to left, his fifth of the season. That was the only Marietta hit that went for extra bases with the other 21 hits going as singles.
Leadoff hitter Kirby Becker went 5-7 to do much of the damage for Marietta. Catcher Alex Toth went 4-6 and drove in three runs, while first baseman Evan Brockmeier also had three RBIs while going 3-5.
The Pioneers added single runs in the fourth and fifth innings before breaking the game open with a pair of runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh.
Gerhard Muelheims went 2-3 and scored the Pirates' first run at the Div. III World Series in the bottom of the eighth inning. He scored on Tyler Pfeffer's double to right center field. Landon Scott, who went 2-4, then drove in Pfeffer with an RBI single.
Scheibe went five innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on 11 hits with four strikeouts and two walks. He fell to 7-3 this season, his first loss on the mound after seven consecutive victories. Taylor Isadore allowed five runs on seven hits in 1.1 innings, while Nick Combo finished up the final 2.2 innings and gave up four runs on four hits.
Blaski improved to 13-1 this season after going 6.0 innings and allowing only two hits. He struck out eight and walked three batters.
Marietta (44-7), looking for its sixth NCAA Division III title in its record 22nd appearance at the finals, advances to play 2nd-ranked St. Thomas (Minn.) (39-8) in a winners' bracket game on Saturday night at 7:45 pm (CDT).
Whitworth (30-15-1) will take on Christopher Newport (Va.) (34-9) in a loser-out game at 1:15 pm (CDT).
St. Thomas defeated CNU 12-7 on Friday. In the tournament's first two games Wheaton (Mass) defeated Webster (Mo.) 3-2 and SUNY-Cortland topped Kean (NJ) 10-5.