Short and sweet: Marshall baseball team edges Morris

MARSHALL – In a word, the Marshall baseball team’s 2-1 victory over Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta on Monday would best be described as efficient.

From the pitch counts to the time of play, the two Tiger teams cruised through their seven-inning non-conference game at Legion Field with Marshall coming out on top.

Aaron Mathiowetz got the start for Marshall and needed just 69 pitches to record 21 outs and the win. The senior struck out three, scattered four hits and walked just one in a game that lasted just over 90 minutes.

“(Mathiowetz) did a very nice job of attacking the strike zone,” Marshall head coach Chace Pollock said. “He did a very nice job today, everything was down in the zone. He’s starting to get back into form. Coming into the game having thrown 25 innings, he’s starting to get his legs back under him. It’s only his third outing of the year, so that was nice to see.”

Of the four hits Mathiowetz allowed, all but one were for extra bases. Tanner Picht hit a one-out double for Morris Area, but a strikeout and flyout to left field ended the threat in the top of the first.

Marshall got on the board in the bottom of the inning when Drew Hmielewski drilled a line drive up the middle to score Austin Saugstad. Hmielewski’s RBI single buzzed the top of Morris pitcher Karle Meyer’s head. Meyer finished the inning, but would not return for the second and took the loss.

Hmielewski would later score when Chandler Erickson tried to pick off a stealing Jon Kor, but skipped the throw to second base into center field for an error. The Tigers would load the bases on a pair of two-out walks later in the inning, but a clutch strikeout by Meyer got Morris out of the inning.

Mathiowetz rolled over the next four innings, allowing just one base runner on a double by Erickson. He recorded two strikeouts from the second to fifth innings and needed just six pitches to get out of those innings as well.

Marshall’s defense was sharp all game, committing no errors and coming up with a few extraordinary plays.

“The whole defense played well,” Pollock said. “Take a look at the scoreboard and I don’t think we had an error. That’s our motto, if we can play well defensively we have a chance to stay in the ball game.”

Saugstad had six putouts in the game in center field, while shortstop Leo Zerr was directly involved in five outs.

While Mathiowetz was churning through batters, Marshall was having troubles of its own at the plate. The Tigers had no hits in innings two through five, but worked in four walks. Three free passes in the fourth inning again loaded the bases, but Marshall was unable to cash in, popping out to shortstop to end the inning.

Morris Area (9-2 overall) scored its lone run in the top of the sixth. Logan Manska drew a four-pitch walk to start the inning, while Mac Beyer drove him in with a two-out triple. Mathiowetz produced a ground ball to second on the next pitch to get out of the inning.

Mason Campion poked a one-out single into left field in the bottom of the sixth for just the second Marshall hit of the game. He finished the game 1-for-1 with two walks and a stolen base, while Hmielewski was 1-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base.

After being one-hit by Fairmont on Saturday, the Tigers have combined for just three hits in their last two games.

“I don’t think we struck out a lot, there weren’t too many guys who were fooled up there,” Pollock said. “It’s just our approach at the plate. We need to have a better approach. After their initial pitcher came out and they brought in the new guy, we needed to refocus and pretend that it was the first inning again. We’ve got to learn from that and that’s something we’ve got to work on.”

With a big doubleheader at Southwest Conference-leading Worthington (6-2 overall, 5-0 SWC) today, the Tigers (6-7, 4-4) will look to be more selective at the plate if they hope to climb above .500 on the year.