The Pioneers began their season in warmer weather in North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia over spring break and in that span went 7-5. However, the biggest statistic from the Pioneers’ southern swing was head coach Brian Brewer collecting his 500th career victory for the Etta Express. Brewer is the second winningest coach in Marietta baseball history, trailing only behind legendary coach Don Schaly who has nearly 1,000 more wins.
Pitching played a large role in the Pioneers’ success down south with familiar faces pacing the Pioneers efforts on the bump. Senior ace Christian Herstine tallied up 21 strikeouts in 4 appearances to start the season off including a 13 strikeout effort in a loss to Piedmont on March 11. Junior Kordell Antill made the most of his appearances on the mound, allowing only one unearned run and zero earned runs in the trip down south. Also, sophomore David Stover embraced his role out of the bullpen and earned two saves, 17 strikeouts, and earned OAC pitcher of the week honors, as well as NCAA relief pitcher of the week.
Despite the excellent pitching efforts, you can’t win games without offense and the Pioneers received plenty of that, scoring 75 runs while south of the Mason Dixon. One main contributor to all of those runs was Senior Tyler Packanik who drove in 10 runs over the trip including four extra base knocks. Sophomore Chris Petrucci also joined in the offensive onslaught, carrying a .345 batting average through spring break and driving in seven runs of his own. However, the most productive Pioneer over break was Freshman Mike Hale who currently leads the team with a .417 batting average and a .465 slugging percentage.
The Pioneers were able to go 7-5 during their trip, despite playing three nationally ranked teams, including the number one team, Cortland State, to open up their season. The Etta Express will return to action Friday, Mar. 25 in Alliance, Ohio against Mount Union to open up OAC play. The first pitch is set at 1:00pm.