Seventh-inning struggles nearly cost the Marshall baseball team a pair of key Southwest Conference games in the team's doubleheader against Jackson County Central Thursday in Jackson.
After giving up three runs in the bottom of the seventh to lose Game 1 8-7, the Tigers surrendered a grand slam in the top of the seventh of Game 2 to fall behind 6-5. Marshall bounced back in the bottom of the inning, getting a clutch two RBI single by Aaron Mathiowetz to help the team pull out an 7-6 win and earn a split with the Huskies.
Marshall (12-4 overall) and JCC have identical 9-3 records in conference play with no more SWC games remaining. Worthington has an 8-2 record in the conference and can clinch the SWC title with a sweep of Redwood Valley in a doubleheader on Monday.
"We wanted to go in, win two and take care of business," Marshall head coach Steve Fleck said. "It was just one of those days where anything that could go wrong, did at times.
"We're not happy with a split, but in a sense, when things weren't going our way, I was proud of our kids for battling back and getting a game."
Fleck said the Tigers were cruising in Game 1 before the Huskies struck for three runs in the bottom of the seventh against Mathiowetz, who was on in relief for Mason Schnaible. Fleck said he felt the strike zone was getting small for his pitchers in the seventh inning of both games, something he said he thought his players handled better than he did.
Marshall's Riley Carpenter went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs in the first game. Colton Peterson was 1-for-3 and knocked in two runs, while Schnaible had a pair of singles and scored two runs.
The Tigers scored five runs over the first three innings of Game 2 to take a 5-2 lead before JCC's Brett Larson hit a grand slam in the seventh off of Carpenter, who went the distance for the Tigers.
Although he briefly slipped up on the mound, Carpenter was perfect at the plate in Game 2, going 4-for-4 with a double, triple and three RBIs.
"After we lost Game 1, if there was one kid who came in steaming, it was Riley," Fleck said. "He came in and said, 'Coach, where's the ball? I'm getting ready.'
"You could see the look in his eye, and through six innings, he was cruising."
It was Mathiowetz who came through to save the game with his two RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to help the Tigers earn the one-run win. He was 3-for-4 with three RBIs. Matt Campion was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI.
Marshall105 010 0-7 11 1
JCC021 002 3-8 9 0
MAR-Mason Schnaible, Aaron Mathiowetz (6). JCC-Zach Copley, Brett Larson (5). WP-Larson. LP-Mathiowetz. 2B: MAR-Riley Carpenter; JCC-Dustin Pronk.
JCC200 000 4-6 10 0
Marshall203 000 2-7 14 1
JCC-Dustin Pronk. M-Riley Carpenter. WP-Carpenter. LP-Pronk. HR: JCC-Brett Larson. 3B: MAR-Carpenter. 2B: JCC-Carsen Nyberg; MAR-Carpenter, Matt Campion, Aaron Mathiewetz.