Baseball: Carson Zellers, Marquette start fast, roll past visiting Serena

Starter’s 3 perfect frames, backed by 7 runs, too much for Huskers

Marquette Academy senior Carson Zellers

OTTAWA – For the first three innings of the Marquette baseball home opener at Masinelli Field, the Crusaders couldn’t have looked better, and the Serena Huskers couldn’t have looked worse.

And while the futures for both of those clubs obviously will fall somewhere in between those two extremes, it made little difference Thursday as the Cru rolled to an easy 11-1 nonconference victory.

Carson Zellers was picture-perfect on the mound for MA over those first three frames, not allowing a baserunner and striking out six. His teammates, in the meantime, took advantage of the Huskers’ struggles, misplays and drops to scratch out seven runs, with only the last two – a two-RBI double to the left field corner by Charlie Mullen – coming in on a hard-hit delivery from Huskers pitcher Carson Baker.

Serena eventually broke Zellers’ spell in the fourth, when consecutive hits by Tanner Faivre, Baker and Hunter Staton plated its only run. But in the top of the fifth, Marquette’s Alec Novotney finished off the win by striking out the side, lifting MA to 5-0 and dropping the visitors to 2-1 on the young season.

“This was my third time throwing, the first game against Lexington and then against Menden Unity,” Zellers said. “That second game was my best so far, but today I felt really good today, as well. In the bullpen before the game, I was able to control everything, and it translated to the game. … But I love when we score runs. That’s awesome.”

Zellers allowed a couple of solid connections right at his defense, but finished those three frames with just 30 pitches.

“Zellers last threw on Friday when he and Novotney threw a good game,” Marquette coach Todd Hopkins said. “We wanted to get them both some work today, and they did a pretty good job again today. The one inning Carson struggled he was just catching too much of the plate, but that will come.

“We have to work on our two-strike approach and with guys in scoring position. We can’t have strikeouts in those situations, but you like seeing them score those runs early any way they can.”

The first of those in the home first came when Novotney and Zellers each singled, then both made their way around to score on wild pitches and passed balls. Sam Mitre walked, then scored after Mullen’s grounder was misplayed, and then he crossed home on a passed ball for a 4-0 Cru edge.

An error, a hit batsman, an RBI single by Keaton Davis and that Mullen two-run, two-bagger widened the lead to 7-0.

Mitre started a four-run fourth with a solo home run deep to left before another Mullen double, a run-scoring single by Griffin Dobberstein, a sacrifice fly by Grant Dose and an RBI hit to left by Novotney completed the scoring.

“Carson got behind a few hitters in the first and that kinda cost him,” Serena coach Chad Baker said, “but this time of year we’re more concerned about how many innings and how many pitches he’s thrown, getting his work in. We weren’t making plays behind him. It was one of those things where when you play quality ballclubs, sometimes your inexperience gets exposed.

“It was nice to see our top three hitters come through in the fourth. It would’ve been nice to scratch out a few more, but it is what it is. Against a good ball team, that happens.”

Marquette moves on to a 10 a.m. doubleheader Saturday at Deer Creek-Mackinaw, while the Huskers make a trip next week to Tennessee for five games there, starting with Willowbrook at 1 p.m. Monday.