TIFFIN – The Heidelberg University baseball team was unable to capture the OAC Tournament crown on Saturday and was swept by Marietta who returned home with the automatic NCAA Tournament berth. The Student Princes were unable to capitalize on an early lead in game one and fell behind, while a rough start to the second game sunk the Berg to end the tournament.
Game one was a positive start for the Berg early. After starter Kyle Fluharty pitched a 1-2-3 first, Heidelberg came to bat and struck quickly.
A wild pitch and an RBI single by Verde gave the Student Princes the early 2-0 lead.
That was where the good news ended, however, as the Pioneers put together rally after rally in the coming innings of the game. Marietta scored two in the second, three in the third, two in the fourth, and three in the fifth to take a commanding 11-4 lead into the sixth inning.
After Marietta tacked on one more in the top of the sixth, Heidelberg finally had a response.
With one out, Eric Monroe walked to score the first run of the inning. Hug then promptly hit a two-run single through the left side to make the score 11-7. With two outs and the bases loaded, Alex Grove emptied the bases with a three-run triple and was thrown out at the plate attempting for an inside the park grand slam that would have tied the game.
Heidelberg was able to keep Marietta off the board in the top of the seventh, but was unable to capitalize on that momentum in the bottom of the frame, going quietly.
The Pioneers then took advantage of the opportunity and scored three more in the eighth and four in the ninth to pull away for the 18-11 win, forcing a winner-take-all game 7.
Fluharty (3-5) took the loss on the mound, going 2.2 innings in the game.
Marietta took an early lead in game two with one in the top of the first, but Heidelberg responded with one of their own to tie the game headed to the second inning.
Alex Simun, the game two starter, ran into trouble in the second inning, as Marietta went for four runs to take the 5-1 lead.
In the bottom of the third, Heidelberg was able to cut into that lead, however, when Hug battled in an 11-pitch at-bat, finishing it off with a towering two-run home run to right-center field.
The Pioneers shook that off quickly and scored one in the fourth as an answer, as the score sat at 6-3.
That score would hold steady until the ninth inning, as both team's pitcher began to settle in. Hendrixson came on in relief of Simun after four innings and silenced the Pioneer offense until the ninth when he gave up a solo home run, one of just two hits Hendrixson allowed in the game.
The Student Princes were able to scratch across one run in the bottom of the ninth, but a groundout to first base ended the game, giving Marietta the 2015 OAC Tournament championship.
Hendrixson went five innings of relief, allowing just two hits and one run while striking out four.
Simun took his first loss of the year to fall to 3-1.
Heidelberg will await the selection of the field for the 2015 NCAA Division III Tournament, which will be decided on Monday. The Student Princes hold a solid chance of an at-large bid, as they were ranked second in the final regional rankings before the conference tournament.