The Dereks set the tone early, Verde hammers it home

The Dereks set the tone early, Verde hammers it home

TIFFIN – The Dereks set the tone early. Christian Verde hammered home the point late.

Heidelberg University sophomore Derek Hendrixson fired a 1-2-3 top of the first and junior Derek Hug crushed a two-run homer to left center in the bottom of the inning.

Hendrixson continued his masterful performance on the mound and the Student Prince offense pounded out seven base hits in an 8-1 win over John Carroll University in the first game of the Ohio Athletic Conference baseball tournament. Heidelberg, the No. 1 seed in the four-team tournament, will play the winner of today's Marietta-Baldwin Wallace game at 9:30 a.m. on Friday.

Hug's home run, his conference-best 11th of the year, came after Eric Monroe was hit by a pitch.

The only run for the No. 4 seed Blue Streaks came in the fourth inning. With two on and two out, two throwing errors allowed David Crowley to score.

The score remained 2-1 until the bottom of the sixth inning. Christian Verde lined a solo home run to left with one out. Back-to-back singles by Alex Grove and Evan Long put runners on the corners for Heidelberg. Joey Rydzewski followed with a soft fly ball to shallow left center field, which was caught by centerfielder Rob Cifelli. Aggressively, Grove challenged Cifelli by tagging up on the play. Cifelli's throw was up the line and bounced past catcher Jacob Schriner, allowing Grove to score.

After issuing a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh, JCU starter Andrew Doring was replaced by Tyler Ferretti. Ferretti was greeted by consecutive doubles by Monroe and Hug. Hug's double, lined down the right field line, scored Doug Miller and Monore. One batter later, Verde popped his second home run of the game – sixth of the season – to left center.

"Hug and Verde got good pitches to hit and didn't miss," said first-year head coach Chad Fitzgerald. "Both guys have the right mindset right now ... get in good hitting counts and put a good swing on it."

The seven-run cushion was more than enough for Hendrixson, who threw his second complete game of the season against the Blue Streaks. He gave up six hits and issued one walk while striking out six and improved to 7-0 on the year.

"Hendrixson threw like he has all year," said Fitzgerald. "He commanded all of his pitches and kept them off balance."

Doring took the loss, his first of the season (10-1).

Heidelberg snapped a five-game postseason losing streak which dates back to 2012.