NEW CONCORD, Ohio – In their first true road games of the season, the Heidelberg University baseball team turned in a pair of excellent pitching performances to sweep Muskingum. In game one, the Student Princes outlasted the Muskies with a 1-0 win in 12 innings, while in game two, the Berg poured it on early en route to a 9-2 win. With the pair of victories, Heidelberg improved to 15-1 on the year, including a perfect 4-0 mark in Ohio Athletic Conference play.
Game one was the epitome of a pitcher's duel, as both the Muskies and Student Princes were silenced offensively from the beginning. Both teams were able to get a few runners on, but stranded them through the start of the game.
Starter Adam Manner, coming off seven shutout innings against Baldwin Wallace last weekend, picked up right where he left off his last time out. The senior worked out of trouble in multiple innings, including retiring three straight in the 5th inning after the Muskies had runners on second and third with no out. Manner finished his afternoon on the mound throwing eight shutout innings, allowing seven hits and one walk while striking out a pair.
Derek Hendrixson entered to start the 9th in relief of Manner and did what he has done all year out of the bullpen, keep the opponents at bay. The sophomore promptly retired the Muskies in order in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extra innings. After giving up a one-out double in the bottom of the 11th, he retired the next two by way of a strikeout and a groundout to work out of the jam.
Heidelberg was able to get the leadoff runner on in the top of the 12th when Steven Morse reached on an error by the Muskie first baseman. After Doug Miller pinch-ran for Morse and stole second base with one out, T.J. Harkness drove a double to right-center to plate the go-ahead run as the game entered the bottom of the12th.
Hendrixson delivered yet again in the clutch, retiring the Muskingum hitters in order to seal the win. He earned the win to improve to 3-0 on the year, throwing 4 innings of relief, allowing two hits and no walks while striking out five.
Game two was the same story for Heidelberg on the mound, as junior Kyle Fluharty was dominant. He was in complete control from the start, not allowing a runner to third base during his time in the game. Fluharty (3-0) finished his outing going seven innings while allowing just five hits, no walks and no runs.
Offensively, it was a different outcome from the first contest, as the Student Princes struck early and often against the Muskies. Heidelberg scored in five straight innings, starting in the top of the second. With one out in that inning, Christian Verde was hit by a pitch and promptly stole second to get a runner in scoring position. Alex Grove then did his job, singling to right field to plate Verde, claiming the early 1-0 lead.
In the third inning, the Berg tacked on two more runs, with one coming from first-and-third baserunning while the other was an RBI single to right-center off the bat of Steven Morse.
With Fluharty in control of the game, delivering scoreless inning after scoreless inning on defense, the Berg stretched their lead to 5-0 in the 5th on another RBI single from Morse.
In the top of the 6th, Eric Monroe came through with a big two-out hit, drilling a single to left to score two runs, extending the lead to seven runs.
Going to the 8th inning, Heidelberg scored two more runs, one from an RBI triple off the bat of Derek Hug with the other run coming from a sacrifice fly by Monroe, his third run driven in for the game.
With the big lead, Jordan Watson came in to pitch in the 8th inning in relief of Fluharty. The Sophomore was able to limit the damage, giving up two runs with only one being earned. It was the first earned run given up by Watson this year in his now 13.2 innings pitched.
That relief was enough, as the Student Princes left New Concord with the sweep of the host Muskies, earning a 9-2 win in the second game.
On the day, Monroe led the way on offense with his trio of hits in game two, also leading the team with three runs driven in for the day. Hug also picked up three hits, including his RBI triple in the second game.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: Manner has now had three starts this year in which he has gone seven or more scoreless innings.
The 15-1 start to the season for the Student Princes is a school-record through 16 games.
Head coach Chad Fitzgerald on the pair of wins: "Pitching was key on a tough day to hit. Adam, Derek, Kyle, and Jordan all threw really well. All of them got ahead and worked fast, and we played great defense behind them."
Fitzgerald on the finish to game one: "We kept grinding in game one, throwing up zeros until we were able to capitalize on a mistake. Harkness came up with a big hit when we needed it."
Heidelberg will be at home for their next game, which will be on Tuesday, March 31st against Trine. That non-conference contest is scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m. in Peaceful Valley.