MARIETTA, Ohio - Despite a subpar performance in last weekend's Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament, Marietta College is the No. 2 seed in the 2013 NCAA Mideast Regional being played at Art Nehf Field on the campus of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind.
The Pioneers open regional play on Wednesday (May 15) against the No. 7 seed Penn State-Behrend. Game time is set for 7:45 p.m. The Lions won the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference and have an overall record of 30-10.
The other first round games include the No. 4 seed Illinois Wesleyan University (32-12) vs. No. 5 seed Washington and Jefferson College (30-11) at 10:00 a.m., top-seeded Manchester University (35-5-1) vs. No. 8 seed University of Mount Union (23-16) at 1:15 p.m. and No. 3 seed College of Wooster (32-10) vs. No. 6 seed Thomas More College (29-14) at 4:30 p.m.
Marietta boasts the most successful baseball program in NCAA Division III history as the Etta Express has won an NCAA-best six national titles, including back-to-back championships in 2011 and 2012. The Pioneers also won titles in 1981, 1983, 1986 and 2006.
The Etta Express is making its 38th trip to the NCAA Tournament, tops in Division III history. Marietta has captured an NCAA-record 22 regional crowns and will be looking for its third straight trip to the World Series.
After hosting the Mideast Regional the last three years, the Pioneers will be playing on a neutral field in 2013. Lest anyone be worried about Marietta's chances away from the friendly confines of Don Schaly Stadium, the Express has won 13 of their regional titles away from home.
Under the direction of tenth-year head coach Brian Brewer, the Pioneers are making their fifth straight regional appearance and have their sites set on more NCAA history. Marietta will try to become the first school in Division III history to win three straight national championships. Cal. State Stanislaus, Rowan (N.J.) and Marietta have each won two in a row.
Marietta ended the regular season with a 28-10 record and was the OAC regular season champions and the No. 1 seed in the OAC Tournament. The Pioneers dropped their opening game to Otterbein University, 7-1.
In the loser's bracket, Marietta defeated John Carroll University 11-10 in 13 innings, the longest game in OAC Tournament history. The win set up a rematch with Otterbein and, once again, the Cardinals defeated the Pioneers by the score of 10-8.
Sophomores Chris Winpigler (Frederick, Md./Tuscarora) and Mitch Geers (West Chester/Lakota East) represented Marietta on the all-tournament team. Winpigler, who played first base, catcher and designated hitter in the tournament, hit .462 with a pair of home runs. Geers, an outfielder, collected seven hits in 15 at bats for a .467 batting average.
Leading the Etta Express into the regional tournament is a host of All-OAC players. Marietta had nine all-conference selections including five first teamers.
Senior catcher Alex Toth (Painesville/Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin) is the team's leading hitter with a .403 batting average. Toth has 18 doubles and has driven in 35 runs this spring, but he is most dangerous behind the plate. The reigning Gold Glove catcher has allowed opponents just 10 stolen bases in 2013.
Senior outfielders Jordan Grilliot (Brookville/Northmont) and Aaron Hopper (Wheelersburg/Wheelersburg) joined Toth on the first team. Grilliot, who splits time between left and right fields, is hitting .371 and leads the team with four home runs and five triples. Hopper sports a .348 average and has 11 doubles and a team-high 40 RBI.
The Pioneers had two first team pitchers in senior Mike Mulvey (Glenshaw, Pa./North Catholic) and freshman Jason Byers (East Granby, Conn./East Granby). Mulvey, a right-hander, is 7-3 on the season with a 3.16 earned run average. Byers, a left-hander, is 6-2 with a team-best 2.64 ERA. Both Mulvey and Byers have notched 58 strikeouts on the season.