FT. MYERS, Fla. – It has been an unusual spring trip for the Heidelberg University baseball team. After losing a 13-inning marathon and getting drilled 18-2 on opening day, the Student Princes used a 10-run ninth inning to win game three 22-19. The next two games, both wins, were fairly ordinary contests.
Nothing, however, could prepare the Heidelberg faithful for what transpired on a breezy Thursday morning at the Players Development Complex.
Heidelberg (4-2) defeated a short-handed Northland College team 37-2, narrowly missing several conference and NCAA records.
Eighteen Student Princes recorded hits, including 13 multi-hit performances. Eighteen players scored and 14 drove in at least one run.
Lost in the parade of Student Princes on the basepaths were strong pitching performances from starter Chris Thomas and reliever Nick Reiter. Thomas threw six innings, scattering three hits and issuing six strikeouts. The win was his first decision since the Florida trip a year ago.
Head coach Matt Palm removed off of his starting position players by the fifth inning.
"I thought our guys did a good job of staying focused," said Palm. "Even with the game in hand, our reserves came in and continued to give us good plate appearances."
The Student Princes scored four runs in the bottom of the first to take command.
Palm began substituting hitters during the nine-run fifth inning. Austin Fleming's first at bat of the season yielded an RBI triple to right center. Christian Verde plated Fleming with a line-drive single to center.
Fleming's triple was the 12th of the season for the Tricolor. Heidelberg recorded 10 triples in all of 2013.
The reserves continued to hit in the sixth, adding seven more runs. Doug Miller knocked in a run with a double down the right field line.
Northland (0-8) got on the board with a run off of reliever Karl Boedecker in the seventh. Jake Smith doubled to left, scoring Dan Kollauf.
Fleming, Verde, TJ Harkness and Travis Gray all doubled in the eight-run seventh.
The Lumberjacks added a run in the eighth on a fielder's choice.
Reiter retired the Lumberjacks in order in the ninth.
"I thought Chris [Thomas] and Nick [Reiter] threw well," said Palm. "Their performances were nice bookends to the game."
Heidelberg pounded out 38 hits in the game, one hit shy of tying the OAC record, set by Marietta in 2000. The Student Princes had 63 at-bats, three shy of Marietta's OAC record and five shy of the NCAA Division III record of 68 set by Rose-Hulman in 1995.
Heidelberg returns to Ft. Myers for a pair of games on Saturday. The Student Princes will face Olivet at noon and Alvernia at 3 p.m.