MARIETTA, Ohio – The Heidelberg University baseball team split their third-straight OAC doubleheader on Saturday, taking game one from Marietta before dropping the nightcap. A three-run home run by Christian Verde was the difference in game one as the Berg won 4-2, while a big first inning proved to be too much as the Student Princes fell 13-7 in game two.
Game one turned out to be a pitcher's duel, as both Adam Manner for the Berg and Christian Herstine for Marietta were solid.
The game was scoreless headed to the fourth inning, but the Student Princes were finally able to find a little offense. Despite just one hit in the inning, a single by Eric Monroe, HU was able to plate one run when Evan Long came around to score on an error by the Pioneers.
That lead did not last long, however, as Manner ran into trouble in the bottom of the frame. After already giving up one run, facing bases loaded with no out, the senior was able to limit the damage, allowing just one more to score to get out of the jam with little damage.
After both teams failed to score in the fifth, Heidelberg pieced things together in the sixth. After a pair of walks to lead off the inning, Marietta (13-11, 4-4 OAC) was able to get two outs, holding the runners to first and second. With two outs, however, Verde came through with a three-run blast to left-center field, giving the Student Princes a 4-2 lead.
That home run proved to be the difference, as the pitching picked up again from that point on. Derek Hendrixson came on in relief of Manner in the eighth and was able to shut down Marietta to close out the game. Hendrixson earned the save, working two innings while striking out three.
Manner (4-0) picked up the win, going seven strong innings to lead the Student Princes. He gave up seven hits and two runs, walking three while striking out a pair.
Heidelberg (19-5, 7-3 OAC) was outhit 8-4 in game one but was able to find a way, capitalizing on an error by the Pioneers while drawing five walks and one hit by pitch.
The Student Princes looked to have carried that momentum into the second game, as they got on the board in the top of the first. An RBI single by Monroe gave the Berg a 1-0 lead.
Game two starter Kyle Fluharty retired the first batter of the bottom of the first with a fly out to left, but that was where the positive news ended. The Pioneers' next batter reached on an error and they piled on from there, going for eight runs in the inning, chasing Fluharty from the game before he retired another batter. Fluharty took the loss, dropping to 3-2 on the year.
Facing an early 8-1 hole, Heidelberg fought back in the second inning and plated a pair on back-to-back RBI hits by T.J. Harkness and Long.
With reliever Jordan Watson keeping Marietta off the board going to the fourth inning, the Student Princes continued to chip away at the deficit. After Adam Hershberger doubled to lead off the frame, he later came around to score on an RBI single off the bat of Long. Some first-and-third base running scored the second run of the inning when Harkness scored while Long was picked off. Back-to-back doubles by Monroe and Verde then scored the third run of the frame, making the score 8-6 headed to the bottom of the fourth.
Heidelberg was unable to continue their comeback, however, as Marietta scored two in the bottom of the fourth and three in the sixth inning to build their lead back up.
Derek Hug, who was quiet for most of the day after homering three times on Friday against Capital at home, led off the top of the seventh in a big way. Facing a full count, the junior drilled the offering from the Marietta reliever deep to right-center for a home run for his lone hit of the day. That would be all the Berg would score in the inning, though, as they stranded the bases loaded later in the inning.
The Student Princes were unable to rally again, falling 13-7 to split the doubleheader.
Heidelberg utilized six different pitchers in the game, as Alex Simun and Steve Huber each threw one scoreless inning to close out the game and give the Berg an opportunity. Both Simun and Huber struck out a pair in their inning of work.
EXTRA BASES: Hug now is tied for the OAC lead with six home runs on the year while Verde is tied for fourth in the conference after hitting his fourth homer.
Hendrixson leads the conference with his seven saves.
Marietta and Heidelberg have now split the regular-season doubleheader the last three years and five of the past six.
The 4th-ranked Student Princes will be on the road again next Tuesday, April 14th, when they travel to John Carroll, who is currently atop the OAC standings with a 7-1 conference mark. The first game of that doubleheader in University Heights is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m.