Marietta baseball off to its best start since 2006
by Adam Carrington
acarrington@mdjonline.com
March 26, 2013 12:30 AM | 2729 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
03-08-13 -- Woodstock at Marietta 03 --  Marietta's Marcus Mitchell (24) receives the ball from the pitcher as Woodstock's Dakota Kinney (4) touches first base. STAFF/EMILY BARNES
03-08-13 -- Woodstock at Marietta 03 -- Marietta's Marcus Mitchell (24) receives the ball from the pitcher as Woodstock's Dakota Kinney (4) touches first base. STAFF/EMILY BARNES
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Marietta baseball hasn’t had a winning record since 2006.

Based on how this year’s team is playing 14 games into the season, that streak is about to end.

The Blue Devils have now won eight of their last nine games and are 11-3 overall record going into Wednesday’s home game against South Cobb, and they are tied with Hillgrove for the Region 4AAAAAA lead with a 6-1 mark.

Marietta coach Chris Stafford had to rebuild the Blue Devils when he took the helm before the 2010 season. One of the first things he did was instill a feeder program and convince the players they could go a long way if they played club baseball.

That’s starting to pay off this season because this year’s seniors were also Stafford’s first eighth grade squad.

“Just having more of a year-round approach to baseball helps,” said Stafford who led North Cobb Christian to a state title in 2006 when the Eagles were playing in the Georgia Independent School Association. “Starting a feeder program and getting the guys committed to playing in the summer has changed the culture of baseball at the school.”

This year’s team is going by the motto “Keeping Your House In Order” and that’s how they approached preseason workouts, academics and the team chemistry this year.

Stafford said his year’s Blue Devils are unselfish and seem better versed on what to do when playing situational baseball -- such as moving a runner 90 feet instead of going for the base hit.

And not having to score more than 10 runs to win games has also been pivotal.

Marietta has one of the best starting pitching rotations in recent years behind Gabe Friese, Brooks Dechiara and Evan Steele. Of the 14 games, the Blue Devils have played this year, only twice have they given up as many as three runs.

“When you have confidence in your pitching, and that you don’t have to get into double figure runs to win games,” Stafford said. “It helps us make decisions to play for one run in a certain inning.”

Friese has four wins on the year, with a 0.52 ERA, and leads all Cobb County pitchers with 36 strikeouts. Dechiara also has a sub-1 ERA at 0.68, and Steele is working with a 1.81 ERA and 25 strikeouts.

Those numbers are usually solid enough to win region championships and go deep in the state tournaments.

“There is no question that our pitching staff has given us a chance to win every night,” Stafford said. “Sometimes you don’t swing the bat as well or play defense as well, but our pitching has given us a chance to win.”

Marietta’s pitching has been getting run support and plenty of it. The Blue Devils average 6.2 runs a game and they don’t have a superstar in the lineup like a Chavez Clarke (drafted by the Angels in 2010) or freshman Vanderbilt infielder Dansby Swanson who constantly drew college scouts.

Henderson is batting .412 for the Blue Devils and leads the team with 13 RBIs. Steele and Myles Wilson have six RBIs apiece. Bradley Piggee and Jordan Mathis have seven stolen bases combined.

“This year, it’s a little more of a blue-collar work ethic and our kids just have fun playing,” Stafford said.

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