PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – A fitting end. That is what head coach Chad Fitzgerald had to say about the Heidelberg University baseball team after they came from behind to defeat Farmingdale State in the final game of their Florida trip. The Student Princes started the day early by resuming the suspended game against New Paltz State, which they finished off with a 9-7 victory before rallying in the 9th inning to stun Farmingdale State 12-10, heading back to Tiffin with a 10-1 record.
Heidelberg, who is now ranked 20th in this week's D3baseball.com top 25, began their day against New Paltz State, resuming the game that they led 8-6 in on Saturday when the lights at the field went off at midnight. Back on Saturday, HU scored a pair in the top of the 8th thanks to a sac fly by Eric Monroe and Derek Hug scoring on a wild pitch.
Resuming the game with 1 out in the bottom of the 8th, Derek Hendrixson allowed one run but limited the damage to preserve a one-run lead headed to the 9th. In the ninth, the Berg tacked on one run to their lead when Evan Long stole second base, allowing Joey Rydzewski to score on the throw.
In the final chance for New Paltz, Hendrixson struck out the side, fooling the final three hitters of the day to send the Berg to a win.
Travis Gray (2-0) earned the win after pitching one inning on Saturday before Heidelberg took the lead. Hendrixson earned his third save of the year with his outing, striking out four batters in two innings.
Game two of the day matched up the Berg with Farmingdale State, and it turned out to be a classic, as a late and improbable rally carried the Student Princes.
In the top of the ninth, Heidelberg trailed by one run with two outs, and Austin Fleming was called upon to pinch hit. Fleming battled at the plate, fouling off a few pitches before drawing a walk, also allowing Doug Miller, who pinch ran earlier in the inning, to advance to third on the wild pitch for ball four. With first-and-third, Hug came to the plate and had a clutch hit to right field, scoring Miller to tie the game.
The Farmingdale State relievers began to struggle at this point, as the next three Berg hitters were hit by a pitch, scoring two more for the Student Princes to give them a two-run lead heading to the bottom of the ninth.
Hendrixson, who came on in the 8th inning, locked down the end of the game, recording a 1-2-3 inning to finish off the win. He earned the win, going two scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while striking out three.
Five different Heidelberg batters had a pair of hits in the game, led by Alex Grove, who picked up 2RBI in the contest. Both Hug and Monroe had a double in the game while Hug stole two bases.
After the game went back-and-forth through the middle innings, Adam Manner made a relief appearance on the mound to silence the Farmingdale State hitters, throwing two scoreless innings. He finished his pair of innings pitched giving up just one hit and one walk while striking out three.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: The win over Farmingdale State was the fourth victory of the year for the Student Princes where they scored in their final at-bat to either walk-off or take the lead to earn the win.
Head coach Chad Fitzgerald on another come from behind win: "It's unbelievable, the amount of fight the guys have in them. I expect nothing less from them on this trip and for the rest of the year. We were down early, got up, got down, got up, got down and the mood or the tempo never really changed. We just kept playing the way that we play and it worked out in our favor again."
Fitzgerald on pinch-hitting Fleming in the 9th: "He's a senior and a leader of the team. We know he's going through a little bit of a funk, but he'll be fine. He's always been good in clutch situations and we had every bit of confidence in him to go in and get the job done, which he did."
Fitzgerald on the season moving forward: "We're fortunate and I think the best thing about our situation right now is that we haven't played our best baseball yet. We're still trying to piece everything together and I'm excited for the next few weeks, this week in particular. I think it will be a great series with BW this Saturday."
The Heidelberg baseball team will get right into Ohio Athletic Conference action once they return to Ohio, facing off with 9th-ranked Baldwin Wallace this Saturday in Tiffin for a doubleheader. The first of those two games is scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. in Peaceful Valley.