DELAWARE, Ohio -- The box scores might resemble those of a slow-pitch softball league, but the Heidelberg University baseball team split a barn-burning non-conference doubleheader at Ohio Wesleyan University on Sunday. OWU rallied for a 16-13 win in the opener before Heidelberg held on for a 17-12 win in the darkness-shortened nightcap.
With the win, Heidelberg eclipsed the 20-win plateau for the 18th time in the past 19 seasons -- and have done so in 2018 with the fourth-toughest strength of schedule in the nation.
GAME ONE: OWU 16-20-9 BERG 13-8-1
Before the Battling Bishops had a chance to bat, Heidelberg led 9-0. Walks to Joey Rydzewski and Evan Long were followed by OWU errors, giving HU a 2-0 lead. Darrin Shirk doubled the lead with a two-run single. After another error, Jordan Beacorn double in Shirk. Joe Sefik and Beacorn would both score on separate wild pitches, giving The Berg a 7-0 lead. Long closed the scoring with a two-run double.
Shirk homered with one out in the second to give his team a 10-0 lead.
Then Ohio Wesleyan went to work. The hosts scored three in the second, two in the third, seven in the fourth to take the lead, then tacked on three in the fifth.
Down 15-10 in the seventh, Heidelberg closed the gap with two unearned runs. After OWU added one in the seventh, Heidelberg wrapped up the scoring with an unearned run in the eighth.
GAME TWO: BERG 17-17-4 OWU 12-15-7
The hangover from the first game did not last long. Heidelberg, again, raced out to a big lead in the first. Rydzewski, Long and Matt Psychas started the game with three singles. Kyle Slovick sent a bouncer to second, but instead of turning two, the throw to first was off. Two scored on the play. The Shirk-nado touched down again -- launching a two-run homer to center, giving Heidelberg a 4-0 lead.
In the second, Rydzewski and Long led off with singles -- including a run-scoring misplay on the throw. With one out, Kyle Slovick blasted his third homer of the season -- a two-run blast to left center.
Up 7-0 in the third, the good guys stapled on five more runs. Zach Cleaver singled and Chaz Bova wore a pitch to get Heidelberg started. Rydzewski followed with a bunt single to load the bases. Long worked an RBI walk before Psychas lifted a sacrifice fly to left. After Rydzewski scored on a passed ball, Sefik plated two with a double to left.
After OWU scored two in the third, Heidelberg responded in the fourth. Cleaver led off with a double and scored on a single by Bova. Bova crossed the plate on a single by Long. A third run scored on a wild pitch, giving Heidelberg a 15-2 advantage.
Heidelberg added their 16th run on a fielder's choice in the fifth.
Like clockwork, the Battling Bishops began to eat away at the Berg lead. They scored one in the fifth, four in both the sixth and the seventh. The hosts scratched one across in the eighth, making the score 17-12.
Fortunately, Littick Field was felled by darkness and the game was halted after the inning.
Freshman Eric Hooper (1-0) picked up his first collegiate win in his first start. He went five innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits. He walked one and struck out four.
In the doubleheader, OWU committed a whopping 16 errors.
Heidelberg hosts Denison on Wednesday for a single non-conference contest. Game time at Peaceful Valley is slated for 4 p.m.