Etta Express pass first test

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Freshman Jason Byers showed the maturity of an experienced college baseball player as Marietta College defeated Penn State-Behrend 11-1 in the first round of Wednesday’s NCAA Division III Mideast Regional.

The Pioneers, who are seeking to win a third straight national title this year, advance in the winner’s bracket and will meet Thomas More (30-14) at 7:45 p.m. today. Earlier on Wednesday, Thomas More defeated Wooster 20-4.

Byers pitched shutout ball for eight innings and allowed five singles, walked one batter and struck out 10. No Penn State-Behrend baserunner reached third base on his watch.

Clean-up hitter Alex Toth provided the offensive spark for the Etta Express (30-12) in the early going. The senior delivered a two-run single with one out in the bottom of the first inning and reached safely on an infield base hit as part of a two-run third inning.

Also doing damage in the third inning were Mitch Geers, who doubled home Chris Winpigler, and Aaron Hopper delivering a sacrifice fly.

Toth also came through with an RBI single during a six-run eighth inning that blew the game open. Teammate Evan Brockmeier doubled twice and accounted for three of the Pioneers’ 14 hits.

The Lions ruined Marietta College’s shutout bid with a run in the top of the ninth inning on clean-up hitter Matt Bittner’s two-out RBI single.