Brookhaven, Ga. - The Marietta Patriots scored four runs in the sixth to take a 4-3 lead in Game Two before losing 11-4 as the Brookhaven Bucks (21-13) scored eight unanswered runs to win the 2018 Sun Belt League Championship.
"I would have loved for the outcome to be different, but the Bucks played a hard series and they deserved to win. They definitely deserved it." said Pats head coach Gil Navarro.
With the loss, Marietta's season ends at 18-17. The Patriots were 9-14 with seven games remaining in the regular season, but won their final seven games to earn the fourth and final spot the playoffs. The defending Sun Belt champions from 2017 then overcame a talented Norcross Astros team in the first round to reach the Sun Belt Championship series for the second straight year, but was unable to defend their title as they fell 2-0 to the Bucks in game one before dropping Game Two Saturday night at Oglethorpe University.
"They showed a lot of tenacity throughout the times when they were down this year" said Navarro on what he will remember most about his team this season. "I challenged these guys a couple times in a different way every day, and they stepped up to it. They've got some tenacity, and they're going to do fine wherever they go in life."
Devin Bilardello went 3-for-4 at the plate for Marietta, while Brandon Grover had two hits and batted two runs in.
Facing a 3-0 deficit in the sixth, Marietta loaded the bases with no outs on singles by Devin Bilardello and Nate Stinson and a hit-by-pitch from Trevor Austin before Brandon Grover scored Austin and Bilardello with an RBI double that also moved Stinson to third. Tyler Elkins (3-1) then came on to pitch for the Bucks and retired Matthew Vaccaro before throwing a wild pitch that allowed Stinson to score. Gabe Howell then scored Grover with an RBI single to give the Pats a 4-3 lead. Brookhaven, however, was able to capitalize on four errors by the Patriots in the bottom of the inning to score eight runs and take an 11-4 lead which stayed that way for the remainder of the game.
The game was scoreless until the fourth inning as Jacob Gassert singled with two outs and advanced to second on a wild pitch before John Cable drove him home with an RBI single to give Brookhaven a 1-0 lead. Jack Rubenstein then added a two-run home run over in the fifth to make it 3-0 Bucks.
Pats starter Ryan Wesley (0-2) recorded eight strikeouts, but took the loss after allowing six runs, five earned, on nine hits.