ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — Wild would be an understatement.
Despite issuing 15 walks over six innings of play, the Meigs baseball team rallied back from an early 3-0 deficit and ultimately claimed a 4-3 victory over visiting Marietta in a Division II sectional semifinal matchup Monday night in Meigs County.
The fourth-seeded Marauders (14-7) didn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning, but the hosts found themselves in a self-created hole as 11 walks allowed the fifth-seeded Tigers (11-12) to take a 3-0 edge through four full frames.
And since turnabout is fair play, Marietta committed all three of its errors in the bottom of the fifth— which allowed Meigs to score twice and close to within 3-2 headed into the sixth.
The hosts started the sixth with three consecutive hits, but a pair of walks ultimately pushed home both the tying and go-ahead runs — giving the Marauders their only lead of the game at 4-3 after six complete.
Marietta had the bases loaded with one out in the seventh, but a 5-2-3 double play ended the late rally bid and allowed Meigs to move on to the sectional championship game. The Marauders will play at 5 p.m. Thursday at the winner of the Jackson-Warren contest.
Afterwards, fourth-year MHS coach Brent Bissell spoke about the roller-coaster ride that this game proved to be — and the character that his kids showed in getting out of here with a victory.
“I give a lot of credit to our kids tonight, especially Cody Bartrum. The freshman came in down 3-0 and didn’t allow anymore damage, which gave us an opportunity to get back in the game,” Bissell said. “We dodged a few bullets and made the most of some late opportunities. We hung in there and just found a way to win — and I’m proud of them for that.”
The game was scoreless after one inning of play, but a wild play led to wilder start to the top of the second. MHS starter Ty Phelps fanned Adam McKnight to start the inning, but the third strike was dropped and allowed McKinght to reach base safely.
Phelps followed with back-to-back walk and strikeout combos to load the bases with two outs, then Phelps issued consecutive walks to Turner Hill and Austin Hefter — which allowed both McKinght and Brandon Neville to score for an early 2-0 advantage.
Phelps also issued four consecutive one-out walks in the fourth, which allowed Isaac Danford to score for a 3-0 Marietta advantage after three and a half innings of play.
The Marauders started their rally in the fifth after Chase Whitlatch singled, stole second and advanced to third on an overthrow. An error allowed Luke Musser to reach safely while bringing Whitlatch plateward, making it a 3-1 contest.
Musser eventually advanced to third on a fielder’s choice that left Bradley Helton at first, then Bartrum hit a ground ball to short that resulted in a bad throw — allowing Musser to score for a 3-2 deficit after five complete.
Damon Jones singled to start the bottom of the sixth, then Ray Johnson bunted his way on and Whitlatch singled to load the bases with nobody out. Musser followed by grounding into a fielder’s choice that resulted in Jones being forced out at home, leaving the bases loaded with one away.
Michael Davis was walked one batter later, bringing in Johnson with the game-tying run at 3-all. Helton walked two batters later, which brought Whitlatch home with the eventual game-winning run and a 4-3 lead.
The Tigers put together a rally bid in the seventh after Michael Ullman singled, then Danford and Hill were both hit by pitches to load the bases with one out.
Hefter followed by hitting a hard ground ball at Meigs third baseman Taylor Rowe, who threw home to Davis for a force out. Davis then relayed the ball to Helton at first base for the successful double-play, ending the rally attempt and the game.
The Marauders outhit the guests by a 6-2 overall margin and did not commit an error in the triumph, while the Tigers committed three miscues in the contest. Meigs stranded eight runners on base, while Marietta left 14 on the bags — which included bases-loaded scenarios at the end of the second, fourth and sixth frames.
Bartrum was the winning pitcher of record after allowing zero runs, two hits and four walks over 3.2 innings of relief while striking out three. Phelps allowed three runs, zero hits and 11 walks over 3.1 frames while fanning nine in the no-decision.
Zack Robinson suffered the loss after surrendering four runs, six hits and three walks over 5.1 innings while striking out five. Danford walked one and struck out one in two-thirds of an inning of relief.
Whitlatch led the hosts with three hits and two runs scored, while Davis, Jones and Johnson also provided a hit apiece to the winning cause.
Josh Moretto had a double with one out in the sixth and Ullman singled to start the seventh inning for Marietta’s only safeties.