UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS – In a pivotal OAC doubleheader, the Heidelberg University baseball team gave John Carroll a rude welcoming to the top 25. The 8th-ranked Student Princes dominated the day against the 24th-ranked Blue Streaks on the road, shutting them out 6-0 in game one before erupting for a 17-2 win in game two. Pitching was the story for the Berg in both, as they did not allow an earned run in the sweep. Derek Hendrixson threw a complete game shutout in the opener while Sam Ankrom turned in a solid start in game two. The wins moved Heidelberg (21-5, 9-3 OAC) into sole possession of first place in the OAC.
Game one was all about Hendrixson on the mound, making his first start of the year. Usually relied upon as the closer for the Student Princes, he entered this game with 7 saves, leading the conference. From the start, he was in control, not letting the host Blue Streaks get anything going offensively.
The first two innings were quiet, as both teams went in order as the game started. In the top of the third, the Berg was able to plate the game's first run when T.J. Harkness hit an RBI double to center.
After scoring a pair of unearned runs in the fourth, Heidelberg continued to add to their lead in the fifth when Derek Hug and Eric Monroe each recorded an RBI, making the score 5-0 in favor of the Student Princes.
With a five-run lead, Hendrixson continued to deal, shutting down JCU (19-8, 8-4 OAC) any time they advanced runners to scoring position.
Hendrixson faced his biggest challenge in the bottom of the ninth, facing runners on second and third with just one out. Just as he has done as a closer in other games this year, he stayed locked in and finished the game with a strike out and a groundout, wrapping up the first complete game of the year for the Heidelberg pitching staff. Hendrixson (4-0) gave up seven hits and no walks while striking out six in the win, throwing just 107 pitches to go the distance.
Picking up where Hendrixson left off, freshman Sam Ankrom had the start in game two. He continued to keep the Blue Streaks off balance, working out of trouble in the first to keep them scoreless.
Heidelberg struck first in the second inning, plating three runs off an error before Hershberger drove in Alex Grove to give the Student Princes an early 4-0 lead.
Holding that lead going into the bottom of the third, the host Blue Streaks were able to plate a pair of unearned runs to cut the Berg lead to just two.
In the top of the 5th, HU struck for two more. With one out, Hug found a pitch to his liking a drilled a solo home run to right. Not letting up from there, Monroe followed that with a double and was quickly driven in off a single by Christian Verde.
The 6th inning was where the Berg piled on to put away the game. All-in-all, the Student Princes scored 10 runs on six hits, taking advantage with a walk, hit by pitch, and two errors in the inning. That put Heidelberg ahead with a commanding 16-2 lead.
Ankrom improved to 4-0 on the season with his start, going five innings. He gave up six hits and one walk while striking out four.
Steve Huber and Kyle Fluharty combined to close out the game from the bullpen. Huber threw three innings, allowing just one hit while striking out a pair. Fluharty pitched the ninth, striking out the side to cap off the sweep.
Offensively for the day, Hug led the way, going 5-for-9 with the his home run and three RBI. Grove picked up four hits in the sweep, driving in a pair.
EXTRA BASES: Heidelberg is now 4-0 versus ranked teams in 2015.
Hendrixson added to his impressive stat line on the year with his shutout. He now has a 0.83 ERA in 33 innings with a 4-0 record and 7 saves and a shutout, having struck out 44 batters.
Hug's seven home runs on the year leads the conference.
Head coach Chad Fitzgerald on the pitching performances: "Unbelievable starting pitching. Derek and Sam kept them off-balance all day, and it is great to see two quality starts."
Fitzgerald on the sweep: "We preached all week about stringing together 18 innings and we went out and did it in all phases of the game."
Heidelberg will return home tomorrow, April 15th, to face Defiance in a non-conference game. The first pitch of that contest is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. at Peaceful Valley in Tiffin.