PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – The Fitzgerald era of Heidelberg baseball is off to a great start. On Sunday in the first game of the season for the Student Princes, senior Adam Manner was unstoppable on the mound, leading the Berg to a shutout of Hampden-Sydney. The Bellevue High School product struck out a career-high nine batters en route to the 6-0 victory for Heidelberg on opening day in the Snowbird Baseball Classic.
Manner came out of the gate hot, sitting down the Tigers in order in the bottom of the first before settling in and continuing to mow through the order. Hampden-Sydney struggled at the plate and managed just three hits off the senior righty, none of which reached the outfield. Manner finished his outing with eight innings pitched, allowing no runs while walking three and striking out nine, picking up the win.
Derek Hendrixson picked up right where he left off after earning All-Region honors a season ago, finishing off the final inning on the mound with a 1-2-3 inning. The sophomore picked up a pair of strikeouts, making quick work of the Tigers to put the finishing touches on the victory for the Student Princes.
After a scoreless first inning, Heidelberg got back in the swing of things with back-to-back singles by Derek Hug and Adam Hershberger to open the top of the second. An RBI fielder's choice by Christian Verde drove in Hug to score the first run of the season, giving the Berg a 1-0 advantage.
That slim lead held steady until the sixth inning, where Heidelberg mounted a big rally with two outs. After the first two batters of the inning were retired, a walk, single, and another walk loaded the bases for Doug Miller, who drew a walk to drive in the second run of the game. After a pitching change by Hampden-Sydney, Verde came through again, driving a single just out of the reach of the third baseman to score Hug. The Student Princes tacked on one more in the inning off an error by the Tiger third baseman, making the score 4-0.
The dominant pitching by Heidelberg kept that four-run lead heading into the top of the ninth, where an Evan Long double down the right field line to drive in Verde coupled with an RBI groundout by Alex Grove extended the lead to 6-0, which was more than enough of a cushion on a day where Hampden-Sydney's bats were silenced.
Hug led the Berg offense on the day with three hits, all singles, and two runs scored. Verde finished the day 2-for-3 at the plate, driving in a pair of runs.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: It was a spotless day defensively for the Berg on the day with no errors, but it took a little luck to get there. In the bottom of the sixth, a ground ball ricocheted off the glove of shortstop Joey Rydzewski right to Long at second, who made the throw over to first baseman Eric Monroe for the 6-4-3 putout.
The win was the first in the career of head coach Chad Fitzgerald, who is in his first year as head coach after taking over for Matt Palm, who retired after last year as the winningest coach in Heidelberg baseball history with 459 victories.
Head coach Chad Fitzgerald on his first victory and opening the season with a win: "It's rewarding. Our guys have worked really hard through the process and I think they just came out and played really relaxed and aggressive and worked really hard."
Fitzgerald on the performance of Adam Manner on the mound: "I thought Adam threw an amazing game, and anytime your pitcher goes out and throws that way, you're going to have a chance to win."
The Student Princes will be right back at it tomorrow morning when they take on Montclair State at 9:30 a.m. in Punta Gorda, Florida for their first of two games on the day, taking on St. John Fisher at 1:00 p.m. in the second.