CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – There may be no more challenging team in the country to maintain a goal-free score in six shifts than Marietta College, but that’s exactly what Salisbury’s national champion did on Saturday.
A 5-all draw after five shifts in Division III College World Series action, Sea Gulls boosters Brandon Epstein and Brock Hilligoss kept the Pioneers in control long enough to beat their attack with two 11th runnerships for a 7-5 victory.
Marietta (44-6) now has one loss since falling out and will play Wisconsin-Stevens Point on Sunday at 10:00 CDT / 11:00 EDT. His winner will have to beat Salisbury twice (38:10) to advance to the top three championships.
“It stinks of losing, but it was fun to be a part of,” said Marietta head coach Brian Brewer, whose club suffered its first loss in the 2022 season. “You must give all the recognition to the world of Salisbury.” They have a champion heart. If they stay in this tournament, they are the team to be defeated. We felt like we came here and I think it affected their performance. They were really good. ”
Epstein and Hilligoss (4-1) combined seven changes without a score. Epstein took over for starter Benji Thalheimer in fifth place with a 5-all result.
He allowed only three hits in 3 1-3 scoring relief reliefs, while Hilligoss took the lead with one of eight. Hilligoss added 3 point-free changes 2-3 with only one hit allowed.
“I can’t say enough about what Brandon Epstein and Brock Hilligoss made of the bullpen,” said Salisbury head coach Troy Brohawn.
“We place zeros and allow us to split off to get to it, number one, and then keep them there so we can scratch the pair across in 11th place. These boys did a phenomenal job. “
Speaking of strong bullpen performances, Marietta College All-American reliever Sam Mathews (5-1) threw a career maximum of 7 1-3 innings, allowing three runs (two won) to nine hits with three steps and three strikes. It was an admirable effort, but he scored a loss when Salisbury made a few runs in 11th place.
Luke Weddell’s singles, followed by Cameron Hyder’s single, gave him an edge. Later, with the racers on the first and third and two outs, Kavi Caster stole the second base and a mistake in the throw on the second allowed Hyder to score and make it 7-5.
Hilligoss finished a perfect 11th place, including two strokes, to secure victory.
“I knew that if I could come and fill it up and try to close those guys for a few changes, our attack would eventually come up,” said the seagull left.
Before the extra-shift theater could take place, Salisbury had to take a 4: 0 deficit.
Marietta made the first run on Brett Carson’s sacrificial fly and added three in the third thanks to Damian Yenzi, Zach Boyd and others from Carson.
Marietta starter Isaac Danford kept Salisbury without a score over three changes and even fanned the side in the third, but in the fourth he began to lose command.
“He was just a little up (in the fourth),” Brewer said. “He didn’t order a quick ball down.” He didn’t throw downhill. He experienced those moments – I think a lot of people tend to forget that Isaac has turned into a starter in just the last three weeks. It has been relieving for three and a half years. So it’s just a sign for us when it starts to rise a little. “
The result was a four-round shift for the Sea Gulls, who won a two-point single from Zach Adams and a two-point RBI from Weddell, who was 3 on 5 in a two-bag game.
“I think for the first time in the lineup we took some quick balls and got into the pitcher count and then we (Danford) were allowed to throw his best pitch, which looked like his break ball, instead of attacking the quick ball quickly.” Brohawn said. “We let him spin it when he wanted to spin it, instead of taking it sooner. I said to the boys, ‘Let’s go after him, let’s not leave him to us.’ “
Mathews entered the game with two outs in the fourth and finished the Sea Gulls team, but thanks to the RBI single from Sky Rahill, they overcame another race in the fifth.
The Pioneers got it right back when Boyd’s fly covered Turner Hill, who was leading from a shift with one. Hill was 4 on 5 and scored three runs.
“I was just trying to see the ball deeper and hit the hard line in the back,” Hill said. “I was able to follow this approach and I fought as hard as I could to get to the base in any way.”
Hill also had two defensive games in the game – his dive while robbing Jacob Ference of another base in the eighth, and second he threw Scott Cameron along the line to the right wall of the field.
“I knew I was going to play it off the wall and it kicked me hard.” Hill said. “I was able to pick it up and throw it quickly. It seemed to me that it was big enough and (I was) hoping we could score at the bottom and win the ball. “
However, Marietta came down in 10th and 11th place, respectively, as she never found Hilligoss.
“Their kids did a really good job,” Brewer said. “You won’t have a lot of big changes this time of year.” It’s the World Series and it’s a game about winners.
“I expected it to be a one- or two-match match. I really did. We knew it would drop to 90 feet here, 90 feet there. They did some things and there were only a few things where, man, if the ball is just a little bit, a little different, it will change the whole outcome of the game. “
Mathews threw 105 pitches, which is his most season. 7 1-3 shifts were also career highs. He threw five shifts on four more occasions this season.
“It’s been a race to Sam all year,” Brewer said. “I know how much it’s going to eat him right now, because he’s a competitor.
“Super proud of our efforts, super proud of our boys and the way we competed.”
Although they lean their backs against the wall, Brewer is not afraid that his guys will come to play on Sunday.
“They are a sufficiently experienced group, a fairly old group and (a) they understand what is at stake,” he said. “I think it will be a good motivation for them.”
“The first thing I will tell them on the bus is that we must do everything in our power to keep this group together for as long as possible. I’m sure our boys will respond well (on Sunday).
Salisbury is now waiting for the winner of Sunday’s Marietta-Stevens Point duel. The winner of this game will play against the Sea Gulls on Sunday at 5:30 PM CDT / 6:30 PM EDT.
“What a balanced game,” Brohawn said. “It was very stressful with a plate from five. It depended on every field, on every basic game, whether good or bad. The resilience that these boys continue to show – when we lost 4: 0, there are a lot of teams that could make it and it could be a lot worse. These guys are buried. “
Jordan Holland can be contacted at email@example.com.
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