Gabe Friese pitched a one-hitter in Game 1, Eric Henderson threw a no-hitter in Game 2 and the Blue Devils swept Camden County in the first round of the Class AAAAAA tournament Friday at Jackie Smallwood Field.
Friese struck out eight and walked two as Marietta (21-7) won the first game 2-0. Henderson struck out three and walked three in the nightcap as the Blue Devils exploded for a 10-0 triumph in six innings.
The sweep sent Marietta, the No. 2 seed of Region 4AAAAAA, on to a trip to face Region 3AAAAAA champion East Coweta in a best-of-three series beginning Wednesday.
It’s believed to be the first time a Blue Devil team has advanced past the first round of the state playoffs.
“As far as we know, and we’ve gone back a long ways, this is the first Marietta team that has advanced beyond the first round,” coach Chris Stafford said. “The strength of our team all year has been our starting pitching, and to play this series and get two shutouts and give up only one hit just shows how dominant Gabe and Eric were on the mound. It’s been that way all year, and we rely on those guys to get it done.”
Friese had a perfect game going before giving up a fifth-inning walk. He allowed his lone hit to Logan Page, who led off the sixth with a single.
Marietta, however, had already taken its 2-0 lead after scoring twice in the second. Camden County (15-12) had to go to its bullpen early, after Trent Wildermuth hit a line drive off the hand of Wildcats starter Wyatt Holloway in the first inning.
That play resulted in the final out of the inning, but the damage had been done. Holloway attempted to pitch in the second, but after he walked Henderson on four straight pitches, he was relieved by Michael Sailors.
After Sailors induced a double play, he gave up a single to Evan Steele and back-to-back walks to T.J. Bulock and Bradley Piggee to load the bases.
A wild pitch scored Steele for Marietta’s first run, and Jordan Mathis’ two-out RBI single plated Bulock for the 2-0 advantage, which stood for the remainder of the contest.
“To have (Camden) lose its best pitcher so early in the game was a big thing for us,” Stafford said. “I feel bad for the kid, and I hope he’s OK, but he took a big shot from Trent. It was big of him to come out and try to continue because I know that had to be tough.”
Game 2 was practically over before it started.
Mathis, Travis Wildermuth, Trent Wildermuth and Henderson all had first-inning hits as Marietta took 3-0 lead.
Travis Wildermuth led off the third with a walk, and courtesy runner Will Crowe scored on Henderson’s RBI single. Following back-to-back outs, Bulock blasted a three-run home run on a 0-2 count over the left-field wall, putting the Blue Devils in front 7-0.
Trent Wildermuth’s RBI single in the fourth plated Myles Wilson for an 8-0 advantage.
Trent Wildermuth, Henderson and Marcus Mitchell led off the sixth with consecutive walks. Robert Harris’ RBI groundout scored Wildermuth, and a wild pitch plated Henderson for the 10-0 lead.
Henderson retired the side in the bottom of the sixth to end the game.
Marietta pounded out 10 hits in the Game 2 victory. It also drew five walks and was hit by pitches twice.
Mathis was 2-for-3 with a run scored. Crowe scored twice, while Travis Wildermuth was 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Trent Wildermuth was 3-for-3 with three runs scored and an RBI, and he stole two bases.
Eric Henderson was 2-for-2 with a run scored and an RBI. He also walked twice and stole a base. Bulock was 1-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs.
“Getting these wins shows we have good team chemistry,” Bulock said. “We knew we could win if we put our minds to it. We had to finish what we started this season and come out and play hard so we could move on to the next round.”
Stafford was excited for the community to see the team move on for the first time.
“This game was important to a lot of people, and to have us respond the way we did was nice to see,” Stafford said. “I think it’s a big confidence-builder for us as we move forward.”