WASHINGTON, Penn. – Adam Manner nearly threw a no-hitter. Alex Grove nearly hit for a cycle. When it was all said and done, the Heidelberg University baseball team cruised their way to a 5-0 win over Shenandoah on Thursday. Manner did not allow a hit until the 8th inning as he was locked in on the mound all day while Grove drove in four runs and was a double shy of the cycle. The Student Princes, now the lone unbeaten team at the NCAA Mideast Regional, will play on Friday at 6:30 p.m. against the winner of Frostburg State and Shenandoah.
It wasn't the quickest of starts for the Student Princes, but they found a way to get on the board in the top of the first. After drawing a leadoff walk, Shenandoah was able to roll a double play. Eric Monroe then laced a single to left center, followed by a walk to Derek Hug. With an 0-1 count, Christian Verde drove in the game's first run, giving the Berg a 1-0 lead.
After starting Manner sat down the Hornets in order, Heidelberg struck again. An RBI triple by Grove drove in Steven Morse, who led off the inning with a walk.
Shenandoah got their first baserunner of the game in the second on a hit batter, but Manner got out of that quickly with a double play ball shortly thereafter.
With the 2-0 lead holding in the 4th inning, Grove struck again. The senior led off the inning with a solo shot to left field, his first homer of the year.
Manner kept dealing and not only kept the Hornets out of the scoring column, but the hits column as well as the Berg came to bat in the 7th.
With one out and the bases loaded, Grove came through yet again, this time bouncing a two-run single over the head of the Shenandoah first-baseman.
In the bottom of the eighth, Shenandoah was finally able to get their first hit of the game on a line drive that fell in front of Verde in left. That ended Manner's bid at a no-hitter and his chance at throwing the third no-no in NCAA Division III Regional history. Manner allowed one more hit in the inning as well, but was able to work out of the jam with a fielder's choice and a fly out to end the inning.
Manner ended the game in the ninth with another 1-2-3 inning, finishing off his gem with a groundout back to himself to wrap up the victory.
The senior righty ended the day going the full nine innings for the shutout, the first of his Heidelberg career. Manner struck out six and did not allow a walk in the game and allowed just the two hits. He threw just 108 pitches in the ballgame while getting 17 groundouts to improve to 8-0.
Grove led the Berg with four runs driven in, going 3-for-4 with a home run, triple and a single in the game. Verde led the team with four hits, driving in one while hitting one double.
Head coach Chad Fitzgerald on the team's attitude today: "I thought we came to the ballpark tonight with a great attitude. We woke up and had breakfast and everything was good and that carried over to when we got here. The guys who played the game played well and the guys on the bench had a great attitude."
Senior Adam Manner on when he started thinking about his potential no-hitter: "The 5th or 6th inning, I started to really pay attention to the fact I hadn't given up a hit. At the same time, my goal is not to throw a no-hitter, it's to help give this team a chance to win. I really want to thank Doug, Joey, and the left side of my defense, because they made some outstanding plays over there."
Senior Alex Grove on his approach at the plate: "I was staying aggressive at the plate and making sure I was getting ahead in the count. I was fortunate enough to put the barrel on the ball and catch it out in front of the plate."
Grove on Manner's day: "Every single pitch was phenomenal. His stuff was just in, out, up, and away. All year he has been able to control the zone."
Fitzgerald on the team's approach moving forward at the Regional: "We're going to take the same approach we have all season. It's one inning, one pitch, and one at-bat at a time."
Grove on his relationship with his battery-partner, Manner: "On and off the field we're pretty good friends. We were both fortunate enough to start as sophomores and as those years have rolled on we have continued to learn and learn each other, learn our tendencies and whatnot. He's a heck of a pitcher and I think our off the field relationship benefits the on the field outcome."
Heidelberg is now in the driver's seat at the Mideast Regional as the only unbeaten team remaining. They will battle the winner of Shenandoah and Frostburg State tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.