TIFFIN – Facing another large deficit, it was as if the Heidelberg University baseball team had no pressure on them. The Student Princes fell into an early 6-run hole against Trine on Tuesday, but the kings of comeback struck again as the Berg rallied early and took a lead late to take a 10-8 victory over the visiting Thunder. A go-ahead 2-run home run by Christian Verde was the difference, as that put Heidelberg ahead for good in the seventh inning, sparking the 6th-ranked Student Princes to their eighth-straight win.
It was a rocky beginning for Heidelberg starter Steve Huber on the mound. Allowing the leadoff batter to reach base in the first two innings while struggling with his command, Huber quickly surrendered six runs to Trine over the first 1.2 innings of the game.
Heidelberg (16-1) did not get down, however, as trailing early in the game is a familiar position for them to be in. Calmly, the Student Princes responded with a pair of their own in the bottom of the second thanks to a pair of RBI groundouts off the bats of Clayton Wielinski and Joey Rydzewski to cut the deficit to four.
Fighting back yet again in the third inning, the Berg got things going and opened up their offense again when Verde doubled down the left field line, scoring a pair. The next batter, Alex Grove, followed Verde's hit with an RBI single to cut the Thunder lead to just one entering the fourth inning.
The offense on both sides then went quiet as Heidelberg reliever Jordan Watson did an excellent job keeping the Student Princes within striking distance. Going into the bottom of the sixth and still trailing by one, the Berg struck again. A pair of singles to open the inning by Austin Fleming and Wielinski set up Rydzewski, who did his job by drilling a single up the middle to tie the game. Later in the inning, T.J. Harkness put HU ahead for the first time in the game with a sacrifice fly, scoring Wielinski to make the score 7-6.
Trine (7-12) did not go quietly, however, as they were able to capitalize with two out in the top of the seventh off of Watson with a 2-RBI double to regain the lead. That would be the final inning of relief for the sophomore, who went a solid 5.1 innings, allowing just two runs on five hits while striking out one to earn his first victory of the year.
Facing a deficit yet again, Heidelberg had one more rally in them. After a leadoff single by pinch-hitter Eric Monroe, Verde stepped to the plate, looking to continue his already-strong day offensively. He unloaded on the 3-1 offering from the Trine reliever, driving the ball over the left-center field wall for a 2-run home run to put the Berg back on top. Alex Grove did not allow that to settle in very long, as he doubled off the wall in left in the next at-bat to keep things going. Later in the inning, Grove came around to score thanks to a sacrifice fly by Wielinski to make the score 10-8 in favor of the Student Princes.
With the Berg holding a two-run lead, closer Derek Hendrixson was called upon to shut down the Thunder for the final two innings, and he did just that. The sophomore was on fire, throwing two perfect innings, striking out the first and last batter he faced to put the finishing touches on the win. Hendrixson earned his sixth save, going two innings and not allowing a baserunner while striking out a pair.
Verde led the Berg offensively, going 3-for-4 with four runs driven in, coming up just a triple short of the cycle. Rydzewski and Wielinski each drove in a pair for the Student Princes in the game while Grove, Fleming and Derek Hug each had a pair of hits in the win.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: This victory was the seventh of the season in which Heidelberg has had to come from behind.
With his two perfect innings of relief, Hendrixson now sports a 0.95 ERA in 19 innings, having struck out 29 during that time. He leads the OAC with six saves.
It was another error-free game for the Student Princes, who lead the Ohio Athletic Conference with a .976 team fielding percentage.
The Heidelberg baseball team will be right back in action tomorrow, April 1st, when they take on the Battling Bishops of Ohio Wesleyan University in Tiffin. That game is scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m. in Peaceful Valley.