Tuesday evening’s contest between longtime NCC rivals Marion and Anderson was a classic pitcher’s duel. Both Marion’s Ethan Dixon and Anderson’s Tristen Brooks were locked in from their respective first pitches, combining for 18 strikeouts and just 11 total hits.
But Dixon’s lone blemish, a three-hit, two-run top of the fifth inning for Anderson, combined with Marion’s lack of offense in crucial situations, proved to be the difference, as the Indians came away with a 2-0 shutout victory over the Giants at Art Caldwell Field.
For the first four innings, Dixon was unhittable, allowing just one hit while fanning five Indians, striking out the side in the third frame. Anderson’s Mike Stewart hit a single in the top of the second inning, but was picked off at first base.
Brooks was equally as efficient in the first four frames, allowing just one hit and two baserunners. Tyras Brown walked to lead off the bottom of the second inning, but Indians’ second baseman Brayden Waymire ended the threat two batters later, executing a 4-3 double play to retire the side. In the following inning, Travis Metzger recorded a single and eventually advanced to third, but the Giants could not capitalize, as Brooks struck out Dre Aguilar and Anthony Reynolds to leave Metzger stranded.
After four frustrating innings for the Indians offensively, they were finally able to solve Dixon in the top of the fifth frame.
Stewart started the rally with a bloop double into shallow right field, as the ball fell between three Marion fielders. Stewart later stole third and scored on a wild pitch, giving the Indians a 1-0 lead. Waymire hit a double of his own later in the frame, and No. 8 hitter Jackson Stephenson recorded the game’s lone RBI, scoring Waymire with a base hit.
Marion threatened to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth frame, putting runners on first and third with only one out, but Brooks escaped the jam once more, striking out Broc Allgood and Aguilar to keep the Giants off the scoreboard.
“We missed two fly balls that we probably should have caught that ended up being the two runs that they got,” Marion Head Coach Mark Fagan said. “We hit the ball hard – just not at the right times.”
The two runs were all Brooks needed, as he shut down the Giants offense the rest of the way, securing the shutout victory. Marion had runners in scoring position in each of the final two innings, but two more double plays helped to thwart the Giants’ comeback bid.
Brooks earned the win, allowing no runs on six hits while striking out seven.
“He went 15 innings before tonight with 23 or 24 strikeouts,” Fagan said. “We knew he was going to throw the ball well. We knew he was going to throw strikes. We just didn’t get the opportunity to hit at the right time.”
While Dixon took the loss, he was tremendous from start to finish. The senior pitched a complete game, allowing just five hits and two runs while striking out 11.
“Ethan threw one heck of a ball game for us tonight,” Fagan said. “He’s come a long way in the last couple of years. He’s one of the top pitchers we’ve got on our team right now.”
Stewart finished 2-for-3 with a double, a single, and a run scored for the Indians, while Stephenson finished 1-for-2 with a single and an RBI.
Metzger and Jaquan Reeves each finished 2-for-3 at the plate, while Logan Wagner doubled and Brown singled in the Giants’ loss.