PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – It was another slow start for the Heidelberg University baseball team out of the gate, but the Student Princes found a way to settle in yet again. The Berg trailed Wabash College 2-0 after the first inning, but scored four in the fourth inning to take the lead, pulling away near the end to earn the win and improve to 4-0 on the young season. Freshman Sam Ankrom had the start on the mound for HU, picking up the victory in his first collegiate start.
Ankrom (1-0) was shaky to start, walking the leadoff batter while giving up two singles and another walk after a sacrifice bunt. With two outs in the inning, the freshman yielded yet another hit to right field, but was bailed out by Christian Verde, who made a throw right on target to the plate to cut down the Little Giant baserunner. From that point on Ankrom, a Thomas Worthington High School product, settled in and pitched three consecutive scoreless innings before giving up one more run in the 5th to wrap up his day. For the game, Ankrom pitched five innings to earn the victory, giving up three earned runs while striking out four.
Despite getting four free bases from walks and hit by pitches in the first three innings, Heidelberg was unable to score entering the fourth inning. That was where the Berg found their groove.
The inning did not get off the best of starts, as the Student Princes already gave up two outs in the inning off of a pair of strikeouts. With Joey Rydzewski on second and Derek Hendrixson on third, senior Alex Grove came through with a big hit, driving a single through the left side to tie the game. Derek Hug followed that up with a single of his own, moving Grove over to third before Hug stole second, allowing Grove to score to give Heidelberg the 3-2 lead. After Hug stole third, Eric Monroe drove him in with an RBI single, giving the Berg 4 runs with two out in the inning.
After Ankrom gave up one in the bottom of the fifth, the 4-3 score remained until the top of the seventh when Steven Morse came to the plate. On a 1-1 pitch, Morse crushed a fastball to right field, leaving no doubt as the ball carried over the wall to extend the lead for the Berg.
In the top of the 8th, Heidelberg gave themselves a little more padding on the lead, scoring three runs with two outs. Morse came through in with another big hit, this time a 2-RBI single to left center to extend the lead to 7-3. Morse came around to score on a wild pitch for the eighth run of the game.
After Ankrom departed from the game after five innings, the Heidelberg bullpen took over. Jordan Watson, Nick Reiter, Travis Gray, and Alex Simun each threw one inning of scoreless relief, allowing the Student Princes to hold onto and build their lead as the game winded down.
Morse led the way offensively for Heidelberg in the game with his home run and two-run single, finishing 2-for-4 with three RBI. Monroe, Hug, and Hershberger each collected a pair of hits in the win as well, while Hug stole three bases as well.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: Verde and Hendrixson each made an impressive diving catch in the outfield to preserve the lead for Heidelberg.
Through four games Derek Hug is batting a sizzling .625 in 16 at-bats, leading the team with three doubles and four stolen bases.
Heidelberg will face Montclair State for the second time this season on Wednesday, March 11th. The first pitch for that game is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. In the meeting between these two on Monday, the Berg escaped with a 7-6 win in 10 innings, rallying after trailing by 6 late in the game, including three in the bottom of the 9th to force extras.