TUCSON, Ariz. - Marian University baseball (4-2, 0-0 NACC) needed another ninth inning rally to defeat Wheaton 6-5 with a walk-off.
The Thunder were on the board first to start off the game but senior pitcher Earl Vorpagel was shut down after that.
"We needed that, our pitchers have been battling but that was our best start so far," commented head coach Jason Bartelt after the game. "That really helped our bullpen out, and he's already closed a couple games for us so to have him come in and provide seven solid innings was a great sign."
The Sabres then took their first lead of the game when Tony Grannis put the ball in play with the bases loaded to score Jake Falish the next inning. Then in the bottom of the third Thompson earned another RBI plating Cody Schaefer to put the MU lead at 4-2 after six innings.
The Thunder rallied in the eighth inning for three runs as they were able to retake the lead at 5-4 setting up another dramatic finish in the bottom of the ninth.
Grannis opened the Sabre ninth with a walk and quickly advanced to second on a wild pitch. Adam Ryan then singled into right field to plate Grannis to tie the game, and with some good base running was able to advance to second on a high throw to the plate. Ryan would then advance to third on a ground out by Schaefer before the Thunder decided to intentionally walk a pinch hitting Hunter Berry and Thompson bringing Dustin Hodgson to the plate.
Hodgson would put up a good battle, but eventually struck out only to have strike three squirt away just enough to have Ryan slide into home just before a tag to win the game.
"We've been doing it all week," commented Bartelt on the late come back. "There's pros and cons to it, but it really shows the fight that this team has. They're playing from first pitch to last pitch, something we really preach, but at the same time we'd like to get some bigger leads and lock them down. The fight in this team, though, is incredible."
Vorpagel would go 7.2 innings only allowing four earned runs with four strikeouts but didn't factor in the decision.
Marian has the day off before returning to action Wednesday, March 9 for a doubleheader against Simpson beginning at 11 a.m. (CST).