Emerson, Ga. - Matthew Vaccaro and Devin Bilardello each had two hits, but it wasn't enough as the Marietta Patriots (18-16) were shut out 2-0 by the Brookhaven Bucks (20-13) in Game One of the Sun Belt League Championship.
Marietta now trails Brookhaven 1-0 in their best-of-three series and faces a must-win situation in Game Two Saturday at Oglethorpe University. A win Saturday would force a third and final game on Sunday and keep their hopes alive for back-to-back Sun Belt titles, while a loss would bring their season to an end. First pitch is at 7 p.m.
The Patriots managed just six total hits and scored no runs as the Bucks pitching staff held them in check all game long. Bucks starter Harrison Fant (3-2) pitched 7-1/3 innings and allowed no runs on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts to earn the victory, while Keyton Gibson retired five of the six batters he faced to pick up the save.
Brookhaven jumped out front in the first inning as Zach Williams and Jacob Gassert delivered consecutive singles to put runners at first and third before John Cable hit a sacrifice fly into left field to give the Bucks a 1-0 lead.
The score remained that way until the third as Zach Williams singled again with two outs. A pass ball moved Williams into scoring position before Jacob Gassert drove him home with an RBI single to increase Brookhaven’s lead to 2-0.
Pats starter Chris Rolick (2-4) pitched 5-2/3 innings with four strikeouts but allowed both runs on four hits and two walks to pick up the loss.
Trailing 2-0 in the fifth, the Patriots had a strong chance to get on the board as Joe Stucky singled into center field with two outs and runners on first and second. Matthew Vaccaro rounded third, but as he arrived at home plate, Trey Vanderpool was thrown out at third base for out number three. The umpires ruled that Vaccaro did not cross the plate before the out was recorded, so the score remained 2-0 through five innings.
Marietta had one last chance to get on the board in the ninth as Devin Bilardello singled to lead off the inning. But Trevor Austin struck out, Nate Stinson grounded into a fielder’s choice, and Brandon Grover grounded out to first to end the game.