PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – You can never count out the Heidelberg University baseball team. Facing a 7-1 deficit entering the bottom half of the 8th inning, the Student Princes, no stranger to rallying late, scored four and then sent the game to extra innings with two more in the ninth. Promptly finishing what they started, the Berg stunned UMass Boston with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning to earn their sixth straight victory to begin the 2015 season.
THREE (FOUR) STARS
Junior Clayton Wielinski came in as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning and made the most of his opportunity. The Evergreen High School product came to the plate twice, barreling up the ball for singles both times to drive in runs, including a clutch 2-RBI single to right center in the bottom of the 9th inning with two outs, tying the game and allowing Heidelberg to win it in extras. He finished the game with 3 RBI while going 2-fo-2 in his first appearance of the season.
Jordan Watson and Derek Hendrixson came out of the bullpen and were locked in to close out the game, combining for three scoreless innings pitched to close out the win. Watson, despite entering the game with the Berg trailing by six, shut down the Beacons, throwing two scoreless while not allowing a hit, striking out two. Hendrixson came on in the 10th after the Student Princes tied the game, pitching a 1-2-3 inning to earn the win, emphatically striking out the final batter of the inning.
Alex Grove had just one hit in the game, but it was the deciding factor as his 10th inning single plated the winning run to send the Berg to another come-from-behind win. The senior finished the game with two RBI, drawing one walk in addition to his walk-off hit past the outstretched glove of the UMass-Boston first baseman.
HOW IT HAPPENED
It was a familiar start early for the Student Princes, as they fell behind 2-0 after two innings of play. Heidelberg was able to get one back in the 3rd inning on a sac fly, but UMass Boston quickly responded with three in the top of the fourth off of starter Adam Manner, making his second start of the season. Manner finished his afternoon going 4.1 innings, giving up five runs on 12 hits.
That 5-1 lead for the Beacons held until the 7th inning when they tacked on two more to make it a 6-run advantage, heading to the 8th. That was where the fun started for the Berg.
Derek Hug led off the inning with a single to right and quickly got over to third base with a balk and a wild pitch. Eric Monroe drove him in with a sac fly to tack on the second run of the game. After Austin Fleming was hit by a pitch during his pinch-hit at-bat, T.J. Harkness singled to right. That was where Wielinski came to the plate for the first time, driving a single to left center to score Fleming. Senior Doug Miller made an appearance as a pinch hitter and earned an RBI, grounding out to second to score Harkness, while Evan Long plated the fourth run of the inning to score Wielinski, making the score 7-5 entering the 9th.
The Heidelberg bullpen held the Beacons at bay in the 9th, giving the Student Princes one last shot. Hug led off the inning again, this time reaching first on an error by the first baseman that was reminiscent to Bill Bucker of the Boston Red Sox in the 1986 World Series. From there, the situation got more difficult, as the Berg gave up two outs in getting Hug to third and Fleming to second base after he walked. Wielinski came to the plate and delivered in the clutch, tying the game.
After Hendrixson dominated on the mound in the top of the 10th, the errors continued to pile on for UMass Boston as Joey Rydewski and Long reached on errors, setting up a 1st and 3rd situation with no outs. Grove finished off the comeback, slapping a single down the right field line to end the game.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
This was the second 10-inning walk-off win for Heidelberg this year already, as the Student Princes rallied to top Montclair State in extras back on Monday.
It was the fifth game in the row that the Berg has trailed in by at least two runs at some point.
Hug continues to stay hot at the plate and is batting .520 through six games.
Head coach Chad Fitzgerald on the win: "That's a great team win. It seems like every change we made, whoever came in, that guy stepped up and did what he was supposed to do. Clayton had two big hits and all the guys coming into the game on the mound...it was just a great team effort."
The Heidelberg baseball team will have a doubleheader tomorrow, March 14th, when they face New Paltz State twice in Florida. Game one is scheduled for 4:30 p.m., with the second game of the twin bill slated for 7:00 p.m.