PUNTA GORDA, Florida -- Speed, pitching and timely hitting helped the Heidelberg University baseball team pick up its first win of the season. Heidelberg beat Wheaton College, 2-1, in the first of nine games in under the Florida sun.
Leadoff hitter Joey Rydzewski had a pair of hits and three stolen bases on the day. Right behind him, Alex Manner was 1-for-1 with four walks and two steals. In all the Student Princes swiped seven bases.
Heidelberg had runners on first and third with one out in the first and third innings, but were unable to scratch out any runs. In the fourth, Matt Psychas led off with a groundball single through the left side, then stole second. With two outs, Joe Walton served a single into center, plating Psychas for the first run.
Hajdu was masterful through the first four innings, retiring the first 12 Thunder batters he faced.
He encountered some control issues in the fifth, walking the bases loaded. With nobody out, Darrin Shirk tracked down a monster fly ball in deep center field. Though a run scored on the sacrifice fly, the out seemed to allow Hajdu to settle down -- as he fanned the next two.
In the top of the seventh, Manner walked and scampered to second on a passed ball. He moved to third on a groundout and scored when Cory Jacobs lined a 3-1 pitch through the left side.
Jacobs began the eighth, hunting for a six-out save. Wheaton's Nick Mailman delivered a single to right to start the inning, then stole second. With no outs, Mailman tried to steal third but was stamped out by five feet on a throw by Walton. The caught-stealing proved costly as Wheaton would tack on a walk and a single in the inning, but were held scoreless.
In the ninth, a one-out walk and single put runners on the corners for Wheaton. Unfazed, Jacobs got Andy Zuber to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
The last time Heidelberg stole seven bases came in a 9-7 win over New Paltz St. on March 14, 2015. Rydzewski also had a stolen base in that contest -- which, coincidentally, was also played at the South County Regional Park.
Making his first collegiate start, Hajdu set a career high with eight strikeouts.
QUICK HITS WITH FITZ
Head coach Chad Fitzgerald on Hajdu's outing: "Early in the game, we noticed they were really trying to hit fastballs, so Tony did a good job of mixing things up with a slider-curve combination ... He worked both sides of the plate and threw breaking balls for strikes, which kept them off balance."
FItzgerald on Jacobs: "After swinging a hot bat last weekend, he struggled a bit at first ... so it was good to see him make an adjustment and get the hit when we needed it. On the mound, he also struggled early, but focused in and found a way to get it done."
Fitzgerald on the seven steals: "It was a point of emphasis in the off season for us ... In the past, it felt like we were just station-to-station, so we wanted to be more aggressive. We think we have the personnel to do that ... and hopefully today is a good sign of things to come."
The Student Princes return to the South County Regional Park for a Sunday matinee against Mitchell College (2-1). First pitch is slated for noon (changed from 1 p.m.) Live stats will be available on BergAthletics.com.