JACKSON — In the biggest game of the season, the Marietta Tigers — and specifically ace Evan Brockmeier — tamed the bats of the Jackson Ironmen.
Brockmeier stymied Jackson to a mere one hit as Marietta mustered three runs in the top of the seventh to upend the Ironmen 3-0 on Monday in a Division II baseball sectional semifinal tilt at Haller Field.
With the win, Marietta improves its mark to 10-13 and, more importantly, will host the Division II sectional championship game on Thursday at Legion Field.
The Tigers will tangle with the winner of Meigs and Waverly, which was postponed on Monday due to wet grounds at Waverly.
That makeup matchup is set for today at 5 p.m.
Jackson, conversely, exits the tournament early as a number one seed, and finishes its season at 16-4 overall.
The Ironmen are the 2008 Southeastern Ohio Athletic League champions, but — for the second straight season — see their season end in the sectional on the home turf of Haller Field.
“We know Jackson is a real nice ballclub, so we’re just real happy and fortunate to come all the way over here and win,” said Marietta co-head coach Larry Burke.
Jackson, known all season for its hitting ability, was kept off the bases and had its bats quieted by Brockmeier.
Brockmeier faced the entire Ironmen lineup twice, allowing only an Evan Osborne single in the bottom of the fifth.
Brockmeier did walk four and hit three, but struck out eight and stranded seven in picking up the complete-game victory.
“He did a great job,” said Jackson coach Lance Rolston of Brockmeier. “He hit spots, kept us off-balance as hitters. His fastball was strikes away and his curveball was strikes in.”
With Brockmeier keeping the Ironmen at bay, Marietta managed all three of its runs on two hits and two Ironmen errors in the seventh.
“Evan Brockmeier pitched an excellent game, and we maximized the three hits that we had and a couple of errors that they had,” said Burke. “We got our runs in a crucial situation and they just weren’t able to score off Evan. I think we just maximized the situations better than they did tonight.”
Michael Bauman, who had two of the Tigers’ three hits, singled to center to score two runs and chase Jackson ace Tyrus Coyan off the mound.
Zane Eschbaugh, the first batter against Ironmen reliever Anthony Malone, doubled to deep left to drive in Cole Biehl.
That made the score 3-0, as Brockmeier struck out the first and fourth batters he saw in the seventh before inducing Bruce Smith into a game-ending fly ball to right.
Kyle Newsom at second and Eric Landrum at first, like they were in the Jackson second, were left stranded with the tying run at the plate.
The Ironmen also left runners at second and third in the first and a runner at second in he fourth.
“We had so many opportunities with guys on bases, we just didn’t take advantage of them,” said Rolston.
Burke said that Brockmeier is used to pitching in tight contests.
“Evan has done that all year for us,” he said. “He pitched three tight ones to Zanesville (SEOAL North Division champion) even. We lost by one run twice to Zanesville.”
Speaking of Zanesville, the Ironmen had rallied on Wednesday from a 7-0 deficit to prevail 9-7 and capture the SEOAL championship.
A second such comeback on Monday was not in the fold, though.
The Ironmen committed four errors, including one apiece in the fourth and sixth before the two pivotal in the Marietta seventh.
After a leadoff walk to Ryan Tucker, the Ironmen recorded an out on a failed sacrifice attempt.
However, a ground ball by Brockmeier was fielded by Smith, who tried for the force at second.
Smith’s throw sailed wide of the base, as an error on the throw from the outfield allowed Tucker to reach third and Brockmeier second.
After an intentional walk to Biehl, Bauman broke through with a single back up the middle to score both Tucker and Brockmeier.
As it turned out, that was the final pitch in the fine career of the standout Coyan.
Coyan was the tough-luck losing pitcher, going 6 1/3 innings while allowing two earned runs on two hits and six walks.
Coyan struck out 11, including all three outs in the first, second and sixth stanzas.
The other two strikeouts came in the fourth, as he also picked off a runner in that inning.
“It’s tough to see either of those guys (two pitchers) take a loss, but unfortunately for us, there were a couple of things here and there where we just didn’t make the proper plays in the field that we needed to,” said Rolston.
Coyan did strand seven runners, including the bases loaded in the first after giving up a two-out single to Bauman and back-to-back walks to Eschbaugh and Lance Weppler.
After stranding a runner in the third and fifth, Coyan faced another jam in the sixth following a leadoff walk to Bauman and an error on another fielder’s choice attempt.
Bauman and Eschbaugh stood at second and third, but Coyan came back with three straight strikeouts to escape the threat.
Through the first two innings, Coyan caged four Tigers in a row.
However, Brockmeier was just as effective, retiring the side in the third and sixth and facing the minimum three Ironmen in the fifth.
Following Osborne’s leadoff single, first baseman Christian Hudspeth robbed Smith of a basehit and doubled up Osborne off first.
For the game, Hudspeth had seven total putouts, including four unassisted.
Shortstop Tyler Brooker had three putouts as well, while Brockmeier helped himself with two defensive assists.
Third baseman Garrett Kerr had a putout and an assist apiece.
“Credit Marietta, they did a great job” said Rolston. “They had a gameplan and they stuck to it. They threw strikes and fielded the ball. That’s what it takes.”
Indeed, as the Tigers are now tangling for a Division II sectional championship.
* * *
Marietta 000 000 3 — 3 3 1
Jackson 000 000 0 — 0 1 4
Evan Brockmeier and Conner Hess, Scott Tebay (4)
Tyrus Coyan, Anthony Malone (7) and Chris Comer
W — Evan Brockmeier (3-6); L — Tyrus Coyan
MHS: Evan Brockmeier 7IP, 0R, 0ER, 1H, 4BB, 3HBP, 8K, 28BF
JHS: Tyrus Coyan 6 1/3IP, 3R, 2ER, 2H, 6BB, 1HBP, 11K, 30BF; Anthony Malone 2/3IP, 0R, 0ER, 1H, 1BB, 0K, 3BF
Marietta hitting: Michael Bauman 2-3 2RBI; Zane Eschbaugh 1-3 D RBI
Jackson hitting: Evan Osborne 1-3