MARIETTA, Ohio—Junior right-handed pitcher Tyler Fruhwirth (Beavercreek) threw a strong 7.2 innings on the mound and the No. 3 seed Heidelberg University baseball team mounted a two-run rally in the ninth inning, but No. 1 seed Marietta College hung on for a 4-3 victory in the championship game of the 2012 Ohio Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament at Don Schaly Stadium in Marietta, Ohio.
Trailing 4-3 in the top of the ninth inning, sophomore shortstop Andrew Zenczak (Brunswick) was hit by a pitch with two outs and back-to-back RBI doubles by sophomore second baseman Joe Staab (Bellville/Clearfork) and freshman pinch hitter Alex Grove (Canal Fulton/Canton Central Catholic) pulled the Student Princes to within one run, but Marietta closer Kyle Lindquist hung on for his sixth save of the season.
The win captured the second straight OAC tournament championship for the Pioneers (37-6, 16-2), who earned the league’s automatic qualifying bid to next week’s NCAA Division III Mideast Regional. The championship game appearance was the fifth consecutive for Heidelberg (27-17, 11-7 OAC).
Heidelberg loaded the bases in the top of the second inning with singles to center field by freshman first baseman Eric Monroe (Chagrin Falls/Kenston) and senior center fielder Elvin Williams (Euclid) and a bunt single by freshman third baseman Steve Kisan (Lakewood/St. Edward), but Marietta starter Mike Mulvey struck out a pair to work out of the jam.
A sacrifice bunt by Josh Ungerbuehler and a steal of third base by Evan Brockmeier set up a run batted-in single by Bryan Gregorich in the Marietta second, and Alex Toth followed with a RBI double as the Pioneers assumed a 2-0 lead.
Marietta struck again in the third when Tim Saunders scored on a passed ball.
Monroe lead off the fourth inning with a double and later scored on a RBI fielder’s choice by Zenczak, cutting the deficit to 3-1.
A RBI triple by Aaron Hopper plated another Pioneer run in the seventh.
Monroe was 2-for-4 to lead the Berg at the plate and was named to the all-tournament team. Staab, Kisan, Williams and sophomore righty Chris Thomas (Canton/Perry) also garnered All-Tournament honors.
Fruhwirth allowed all four Pioneer runs on nine hits while striking out four and walking two, but suffered the loss to fall to 4-4, in his longest outing since March 31. Junior righty Teddy Lowe (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) induced a flyout in just a third of an inning of relief.
Tim Saunders was 2-for-3 with a double and two runs for Marietta and was named tournament MVP. Aaron Hopper was 2-for-4.
Mulvey allowed one ‘Berg run on five hits and fanned eight batters over 6.0 innings and earned the win to improve to 5-0. Logan Lewis worked the seventh inning and Lindquist closed the final two frames.
The NCAA will announce the 56-team field for the NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament on Sunday night or Monday morning.