Baseball bounced from OAC Tournament

Baseball bounced from OAC Tournament

MARIETTA, Ohio – In Bull Durham, Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh quoted Crash Davis when talking to a reporter after being called up to the Majors.

"Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains."

Unfortunately for the Heidelberg University baseball team, Nuke was only right on two of the accounts.

The #2 seed Student Princes fell to the #4 seed Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets in an elimination game in the 2014 OAC Tournament. BW won 13-11 and advanced to face Marietta in the consolation bracket final later on Friday.

Heidelberg (31-11) was the first team eliminated from the four-team tournament.

In the first, Austin Fleming lined a two-out single to center, scoring Arneal Squibb. The run gave the Student Princes their first lead of the tournament.

Baldwin Wallace (23-17) responded with a pair off of starter Kyle Fluharty, who issued three walks in the inning.

T.J. Harkness led off the bottom of the second with a single to center. He scored on a double to the gap in left center by Andrew Zenczak. Joe Stabb reached on an infield single and Squibb roped a two-run triple down the right field line.

With no outs, Jon Capadona relieved starter Alex Albright. Alex Grove greeted Capadona with a single to right to drive in Squibb, which gave the Student Princes a 5-2 lead.

Then the rain came. And the 23-minute rain delay washed away the 'Berg momentum.

Capadona retired the first three batters after the tarp came off the field.

The next half inning, BW scored six runs on six hits to take an 8-5 advantage. 'Berg starter Kyle Fluharty gave up three hits before being relieved by Derek Hendrixson. Hendrixson allowed three more hits, including a two-run triple to Brad Gugliotta. Fluharty went 2.1 innings, allowing seven runs, five earned.

Down 8-5, Adam Hershberger led off the bottom of the third with a double to left center. He scored after a pair of groundouts by Harkness and Zenczak.

The Yellow Jackets regained their three-run advantage with a run off of Hendrixson in the fourth.

The Student Princes closed the gap with a run on a sacrifice fly in the fourth, but BW countered with a two-run homer by Mark Zimmerman in the fifth.

In the bottom of the sixth, Eric Monroe launched his third home run of the tournament. The two-run shot to left center but the BW lead down to 11-9.

Undaunted, the Yellow Jackets scored single runs in the seventh and the eighth.

In the bottom of the eighth, Alex Grove blasted a two-run home run to right, his first of the year.

Trailing 13-11 in the ninth, Heidelberg threatened. Derek Hug blooped a basehit into center and sprinted into second for a double. Hershberger followed with a grounder to third that was mishandled. Prior to the first pitch to Harkness, BW pitcher Mark Zimmerman spun and threw a pickoff attempt to Steve Montgomery at second. To many in attendance at Don Schaly Stadium, it looked like Hug dove and beat the throw. The second base umpire though, thought differently and Hug was picked off.

Harkness drew a walk, which prompted a pitching change for the Yellow Jackets. Closer Brandon Cichocki got Zenczak to line out to shortstop for the second out. Staab hit into a fielder's choice to short and Hershberger was forced at third to end the game.

All nine Student Princes recorded a hit, led by Grove's three-hit performance.

"We played from behind all week," said head coach Matt Palm, who finishes with an all-time tournament record of 25-18 in 13 trips. "But every guy we put out there played as hard as he could. We didn't pitch as well as we have and we made a few timely errors, but we kept battling until the end."

Eliminated from the OAC Tournament, the fate of the Student Princes rests in the hands of the NCAA Regional selection committee. Heidelberg, ranked second in the region as of Thursday, will hope to receive one of 14 at-large bids into a regional tournament.

"Of our 11 losses, all but one have come against regionally ranked opponents," said Palm. "You never want to leave it up to the selection committee, but I think we have done enough to merit consideration."

The tournament selections will be announced on Monday and posted on NCAA.com. If selected, Heidelberg would play on Wednesday.