MARSHALL - Morning rains threw a wrench into the 22nd Annual Marshall Tiger Baseball Tournament. When action finally began, Mason Schnaible nearly threw a no-hitter.
Making his first start of the season and the third of his career, the Marshall senior took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of Saturday's game against Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta. He struck out the first two batters of the inning and was one out away from the rare feat before MA/C-A's Chandler Erickson stepped up and poked a hit through the middle of the infield. Shortstop Jacob Torgerson followed with another single before Marshall got the final out of a 6-0 win.
A nearly three-and-a-half hour delay pushed the start time of the tournament opener between Marshall and MA/C-A from 10 a.m. to close to 1:30 p.m. as the teams waited for the field to be deemed playable after rain rolled through the area. When the two Tiger teams from Section 3AA finally did step onto the field to begin the game, Schnaible took the mound and started mowing through the MA/C-A batting order. He retired the side in the first and second innings and didn't faced more than four batters in an inning until the seventh.
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Marshall’s Mason Schnaible, right, throws a pitch in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ game against Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta in the first game of the 22nd Annual Marshall Tiger Baseball Tournament at Legion Field. Schnaible had a no-hitter broken up with two outs in the final inning of Marshall’s 6-0 win.
"The arm was feeling good," said Schnaible, who finished the six strikeouts and just one walk. "The breaking ball was working. Throwing strikes was the key and I was just getting outs.
"It was exciting to have (a chance at a no-hitter), but it's alright. A complete-game shutout works, too."
Marshall head coach Steve Fleck was looking for a strong start from Schnaible to help the Tigers bounce back from a 5-2 home loss to Pipestone in their Southwest Conference opener. With most of his innings on the mound coming in relief appearances, Schnaible, the team's usual shortstop, certainly stepped up to the challenge in his first start of the young season.
MA/C-A000 000 0-0 2 3
Marshall101 040 X-6 7 1
MA/C-A-Chandler Erickson, Tyler Henrichs (5), Bryce Jergenson (5). M-Mason Schnaible. WP-Schnaible. LP-Erickson. 2B: M-Riley Carpenter, Leo Zerr.
LQPV001 040 0-5 5 2
Marshall411 001 0-7 11 1
LQPV-Eric Smith, Jalen Baldwin (4). M-Riley Roth, Leo Zerr (5). WP-Roth. LP-Smith. Save-Zerr. 2B: M-Zerr, Matt Campion (2), Aaron Mathiowetz.
"What a game. One out away from a no-no," Fleck said. "You know, what he did was he worked ahead and he was able to throw both his fastball and curve over. Even for strike one, they never knew what was coming."
Schnaible got some early run support to give him a bit of a cushion. After MA/C-A starter Chandler Erickson got Marshall's first two batters to fly out to open the first inning, Matt Campion reached base on a throwing error by the third baseman and scampered into second on the overthrow. Riley Carpenter came up next and drove Campion in with a double to left-center.
In the third inning, the Tigers added a second run when Leo Zerr, who took over Schnaible's regular position at shortstop, opened the inning with a double. He moved ahead a base after a single by Matt Campion and later scored on a sac fly by Carpenter.
After center fielder Alex Fenske made a tough running grab on a well-hit ball in the fourth inning to preserve Schnaible's no-hit bid, the Marshall offense busted the game open with four runs in the fifth inning against MA/C-A reliever Tyler Henrichs. Schnaible drew a walk from the leadoff spot to open things up and Zerr followed with a bunt single. Carpenter was up next and drew a walk before Fenske drove in Schnaible and Zerr with a base hit to right field. Carpenter later scored on a wild pitch and Fenske was driven in on an RBI single by first baseman Ben Geary.
The extra run support was nice, but one run would have sufficed for Schnaible, who struck out four batters in the final two innings on his way to a shutout. Fleck said Schnaible's performance may have earned him more starts down the road.
"We've used him in relief a bit, but I'm pretty selfish," Fleck said. "I think he's the best shortstop around and I like to have him at shortstop, but pitching is what wins ballgames.
"Leo did a nice job moving over and playing short today and we're going to have to use Mason more on the hill. He seems to be a competitor and one that goes after hitters and he'll see more mound time."
After tournament's opening game, West Fargo (N.D.) dispatched of Lac qui Parle Valley 10-0 in the second game of the four-team event. The original plan of the tournament was to have the losers from the first two games play each other for third place and the winners play for the championship, but with the long delay to start the day, that's not how things played out.
The coaches met and decided that West Fargo and MA/C-A would play in the third game of the day because the squad from North Dakota had a long drive ahead, and because MA/C-A and LQPV are in the same conference, have already played each other once and will play each other again early next month.
West Fargo defeated MA/C-A 8-0 in the third game of the day before Marshall and LQPV closed the tournament with what was a rematch of a Section 3AA playoff matchup last season. The Eagles defeated the Tigers 5-0 in the opening rounds to end Marshall's season.
In Saturday's meeting, Marshall scored six runs over the first three innings and withstood a four-run fifth inning from LQPV to hold on for a 7-5 victory.
Taking a cue from Schnaible's near no-hitter, Marshall's Riley Roth sat down LQPV's batters in order through the first three innings of what was his first varsity start.
"He was motoring," Fleck said of Roth. "The first nine batters he faced went up and down. For his first experience, he was really attacking the zone and making them have to hit it, and we played great defense again."
The Tiger offense gave Roth a sizable lead right away against LQPV starter Eric Smith, putting up four runs in the first inning, one in the second and one in the third. With his team up 6-1, Roth began to struggle in the fifth. After getting the first two batters out, Roth walked the next three before LQPV's Brandon Bornhorst made contact for a two RBI single. Fleck later replaced Roth with Zerr, who gave up another hit. By the end of the inning, Marshall's lead was down to 6-5.
But the Tigers added a run in the sixth and Zerr shut down the Eagles in the final two innings to earn the save. Roth went 4 2/3 innings, giving up five earned runs on three hits. He also struck out six batters and walked four. Zerr gave up two hits, struck out three batters and surrendered three walks in relief.
Campion led the Tigers at the plate, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Aaron Mathiowetz, who only got one at-bat in the first game, went 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs and a double against LQPV. Carpenter also had a pair of hits and an RBI, while Colton Peterson had a two-RBI single.
Fleck said he used the LQPV game as a chance to get some different guys some playing time, one of them being Mathiowetz.
"We had Aaron at second base. We still like Leo there defensively, but we wanted to find a place for Aaron to get in there because he's got a good bat and he went 2-for-3 for us.
"It's still early in the season and we're trying some things. We got everybody in the game and that's what we wanted to do."
The Tigers, who are now 3-1 on the season, will resume Southwest Conference action on Tuesday against Worthington, which is undefeated so far this season and has gotten two no-hitters from pitching standout Lucas Henning.