BASE: Wenning closes game two, Berg splits with BW

(Photos by Mason Hainey)
(Photos by Mason Hainey)

TIFFIN, Ohio -- The Heidelberg University baseball team salvaged yet another doubleheader split as the Student Princes fell in the opener, 9-5, before winning 7-6 in the night cap. Entering with tying run in scoring position in the ninth inning of the second game, closer Joey Wenning struck out three consecutive batters.

Parker Fronk was able to dig you down with a five-hit afternoon, scoring three times. Jake Davis and Matt Psychas each had three hits -- including home runs as part of a three-homer inning in the first game.

Both squads moved to 20-9 on the season, but Baldwin Wallace (9-3) holds a one-game edge on Heidelberg (8-4) for the top spot in the Ohio Athletic Conference.

Game One: BALDWIN WALLACE 9 HEIDELBERG 5

The Yellow Jackets did their damage early and often as they scored eight of their nine runs across the first four innings. An RBI single in the first by Philip Wells got them going. A bases-loaded double by Alex Ludwick in the second inning added three more runs.

In the third, BW kept it going with three hits and an error that helped score two more runs. Sam Sustersic singled down the left field line for the first RBI to score Jacob Bonner. Later, Sustersic came around the score on a wild pitch. Once again in the top half of the fourth, BW scored two more runs to take a commanding 8-0 lead.

In the bottom half of the fourth, Heidelberg awoke and finally broke through via the long ball. Matt Psychas and Marc Ochoa led off the inning with nearly identical back-to-back blasts over the left field wall. Paker Fronk then singled up the middle, bringing Jake Davis to the plate. Davis then took a turn sending one toward Rock Creek with a towering home run to left.

BW forced another run across in the top of the sixth on a RBI single by Asa Adams. The hit came with an inherited runner off HU reliever, Tristan Phillips. After the single to Adams, Phillips smoothly closed out the game pitching 3.2 scoreless innings and allowed just one more hit. The lefty also punched out four BW hitters.

Heading the ninth, the Student Princes made an effort to overcome the five run deficit off the BW bullpen. Tyler Smith led off with a single and advanced on a Mike Warden walk. Kane Bateman was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. Kyle Jenkins then drove home Smith with a fielder's choice. After Psychas walked to once again load the bases with two outs, Ochoa sent a deep line drive to center that was hauled in by the BW fielder to end the threat.

Alec Zoeller (1-1) was hit with his first collegiate loss. The lefty was responsible for 9 hits, six earned runs and four strikeouts in just 2.2 innings. Danny Cody (6-0) lasted eight innings for the Yellow Jackets conceding just eight hits and four earned runs. Cody -- who had major league scouts tracking his every pitch -- tacked onto his league lead in strikeouts with 10 Ks on the day.

Game Two: HEIDELBERG 9 BALDWIN WALLACE 3

After trailing for all of the opener, Heidelberg took an early lead in the nightcap. Fronk hit a solid single to center, then moved to third as it got past the center fielder. He put HU up 1-0 in the second inning when he scored on a passed ball.

The Student Princes added two in the third. Kyle Jenkins reached on a throwing error, then sprinted home as Psychas laced a triple to the wall in right center. Ochoa sent a bouncer up the middle, plating Psychas.

Starter Mac Spears, who didn't allow a hit until fourth, ran into trouble in the fifth. When the inning came to a close, Spears and reliever Mason Metz had allowed BW to take a 4-3 lead. The Yellow Jackets padded their lead with two more in the sixth.

Trailing 6-3, Heidelberg responded in a big way. Fronk was hit by a pitch and moved to second as Davis bounced a ball through the left side. A solid single to right by Smith loaded the bases for Zach Doran. Doran knocked in two with a single that kicked off the glove of the third baseman. Down 6-5, Smith took third on a delayed steal, then scored as the throw from the catcher sailed into left.
Brady Knizner, who got the final out of the sixth, worked a 1-2-3 seventh, allowing the offense to go back to work. Despite a rising pitch count, BW starter Jack Raines came back out for the seventh. Jenkins wore a pitch off the lower leg and scooted to second on another base knock by Fronk. With two outs, Davis worked a walk -- loading the bases for Smith. Smith drove in a run when he was hit in the ribs by a pitch.

Up 7-6, Knizner held BW at bay into the ninth. Needing a run to tie, the Yellow Jackets got the first two batters aboard.

Wenning entered.

Wenning struck out Kyle Pennington.

Wenning struck out Philip Wells.

Wenning struck out Jacob Bonner.

Wenning -- and his teammates -- rejoiced, having salvaged the split. In a conference where every win matters, the Heidelberg closer came through in an enormous way.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE:

Heidelberg's three home run fourth inning in game one marked their first multi-homer inning since April 27, 2016 at Ohio Wesleyan University when they sent two over the fence in the fourth inning of that game … HU hasn't had a three-homer inning nor back-to-back home runs since at least the 2009 season.

Wenning has eight saves on the season, the most by a Student Prince since Andy Lowe had 14 in the 2011 season.

The Heidelberg Student Princes won more games in Tuesday's series against the Yellow Jackets than the Tampa Bay Lightning won against the Blue Jackets in the opening round of the NHL playoffs.  

THE RACE FOR THE POSTSEASON:

BW (9 wins) still sits atop the OAC with three doubleheaders to play. Heidelberg and John Carroll are one game back. Otterbein and Marietta each have seven wins.

UP NEXT:

OAC action is scheduled to continue on Friday, as Heidelberg will travel to Muskingum. With a rainy forecast and Easter, the schedule may change.