TIFFIN – After a few days of postponements, the 4th-ranked Heidelberg University baseball team finally took the field against Capital. Those extra days off seemed to benefit the Crusaders early, as they took game one 17-12 before the Student Princes salvaged a split by thrashing Capital 16-1 in game two. Derek Hug highlighted the day with three home runs for the Berg in the doubleheader while freshman Sam Ankrom turned in a solid start to pick up the win in the second game.
Game one started off the right way for the Berg, as after starter Steve Huber pitched a scoreless first inning, the Student Princes took an early lead. In the bottom of the first, Hug took the second pitch he saw and drilled it over the wall in right-center field for the 1-0 lead.
That was where the trouble began for Huber, however, as he allowed two in the second, two in the third, and three in the fourth, exiting the game after just 3.1 innings. Huber (1-2) took the loss, giving up six hits, and six runs, five earned, while striking out two.
The Student Princes were not able to capture the momentum though, as Capital (12-11, 4-4 OAC) struck for five more in the fifth for a 12-3 lead.
Heidelberg (18-4, 6-2 OAC) did not back down and scored five right back in the bottom of the frame, led by an RBI triple off the bat of Verde to deep right-center field.
Once again though, the Crusaders had an answer, scoring two more in the sixth to extend their lead yet again.
The Student Princes were able to put together threats, scoring at least one run in each of the final six innings of the game, but it was not enough. Alex Manner pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth and delivered with an RBI single, but it was too little, too late, as the Berg fell 17-12.
Ankrom made sure that the result of the first game did not carry over to the second, as he was in control on the mound. The freshman settled in quickly and retired the first six batters of the game in order.
With Ankrom keeping the Crusaders off the board, Heidelberg took a 1-0 lead in the 3rd inning after Hug plated T.J. Harkness on a groundout to second.
After another 1-2-3 inning in the top of the fourth, the Berg began to open things up offensively. Having already scored two runs in the inning, Hug came to the plate with two outs and he found another pitch to his liking, drilling another home run, this time to right-center for a 3-run blast, making the score 6-0.
Ankrom allowed a run in the top of the fifth, working out of trouble to limit the damage before the Student Princes padded their lead with three more in the bottom of the inning.
After another scoreless inning in the 6th for the Crusaders, Hug led off the bottom of the frame for the Berg. Once again, he made the Capital pitching look like batting practice, squaring up his third home run of the day, another shot to right-center. Later in the inning, Steven Morse decided to take advantage of the stiff wind blowing out to right as well, drilling a 3-run homer just to the right of the scoreboard to extend the lead again. All in all, Heidelberg scored five more in the inning to make the score 14-1.
The Student Princes cruised from there, plating two more runs during the remainder of the game while reliever Alex Simun kept Capital off the scoreboard to wrap up the game. Simun went two innings, allowing three hits and no runs while striking out one.
Ankrom ended his afternoon on the mound tying career-highs with seven innings and eight strikeouts. The freshman picked up the win to improve to 3-0 on the year, allowing six hits and one run in his quality start.
On the day, Hug led the way with five hits with only two of those staying in the park. He drove in six runs in the doubleheader. Morse drove in four runs on the day with four hits, including his three-run homer.
EXTRA BASES: Heidelberg was consistent on offense for the day, spraying 28 hits total in the two games.
After today's games, Hug now ranks second in the conference with his .429 batting average, 5 home runs, and .725 slugging percentage, leading the way with 15 stolen bases.
Head coach Chad Fitzgerald on Hug's day: "I thought he had a good approach all day. He saw the ball, hit it hard, and what I liked about his first two at-bats was that he hit a home run to right, but then hit a line drive to left field. He's a powerful kid, and he saw it and didn't miss."
Fitzgerald on Ankrom's start: "He did a great job, coming out and throwing strikes and working fast. His tempo really carried over to how we played offensively. We were aggressive, the same way he was on the mound."
Fitzgerald on how his team needs to play moving forward: "With the rankings the way they are, we are going to get everyone's best shot. Our challenge is to show up for 18 innings and be focused for that time period."
Heidelberg will be on the road tomorrow for another OAC doubleheader, taking on Marietta. First pitch of game one of that conference matchup is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. at Don Schaly Stadium.