FT. MYERS, Florida -- For eight innings, the Heidelberg University baseball team looked sharp. There's a good chance that last three outs, however, gave head coach Chad Fitzgerald a few gray hairs. The Student Princes committed two errors and gave up three runs in the top of the ninth inning, but held on for a 7-5 victory over Thiel College on Thursday.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Following a 1-2-3 first by Hajdu, the HU offense got to work immediately. Adam Hershberger lifted a flyball to right that plated Alex Manner for the first run. Shirk followed by legging out an infield single that brought in Matt Psychas.
Up 2-0 in the third, Joey Rydzewski had a bunt single to third and advanced on an errant throw. After moving to third on a groundout, he scored on a passed ball.
The Tomcats (3-3) crept back in with a pair of runs in the fourth. Jake Marino hit a two-out, two-run triple to the gap in right center.
Heidelberg struck quickly in the sixth when Shirk tripled to the wall in left, scoring Hershberger. Long followed with a bouncing single through the left side to bring in Shirk.
The Tricolor would tack on two more runs in the seventh. Manner and Psychas walked before Hershberger hit an infield single to load the bases. Long followed with a sac fly to left and Psychas scampered home on a passed ball.
Heidelberg cruised into the ninth with a 7-2 advantage. After Zach Doran worked a scoreless eighth in relief of Hajdu, Brady Ansara started the ninth. Ansara hit Zach Hudecek, who used a Monroe Brothers elbow flap (patent pending) to take the free base. Nick Fowkes slashed a double down the right field line for an RBI. Following a strikeout, Alex Lam sent a bouncer to third that hugged the line. Hershberger's throw was up the line, putting two aboard. Drew Dellert followed with a slow bouncer past Ansara that Rydzewski was unable to field, which allowed another run to score. Andrew Giesey sent a bouncer to third that was briefly bobbled, which let Lam slide into third ahead of a diving Hershberger.
With the bases loaded and one out, Cameron Deemer relieved Ansara -- who pitched effectively, despite the stat line. Bryan Mitchell sent a chopper over the head of a leaping Deemer for an infield single that allowed all baserunners to advance. Filippo Costanzo nearly repeated the feat, but Deemer snow-coned the bouncer, threw to Marc Ochoa at the plate, who relayed to first for the game-ending 1-2-3 double play.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
Rydzewski has had at least one hit in all seven games this season, and has five multi-hit performances. Shirk has reached base in all seven contests.
Hajdu has 23 strikeouts on the year, averaging 12.5 per nine innings. Opponents are hitting .145 off the junior.
Doran has made three scoreless relief appearances, spanning five innings.
QUICK HITS WITH FITZ
Fitzgerald on the start from Hajdu: "I thought Tony did a great job filling the zone and attacking guys and forcing them to put the ball into play ... He's done well all year and today was another great start for Tony."
Fitzgerald on the offense: "I think we're still trying to find our way within our lineup, finding out who needs to be where ... We had a few more hits today, but I know we can do a better job of putting a whole game together offensively."
Heidelberg plays twice on Friday. They'll play Nichols College (2-0) at 9 a.m. and Rhodes College (7-8) at 3 p.m. Live stats for both contests will be available at BergAthletics.com.