TIFFIN -- Despite getting out to an early lead, the Heidelberg University baseball team needed a five-run seventh inning to topple the College of Wooster in the first game of the best-of-three NCAA Super Regional Tournament. Bolstered by two two-run doubles by Parker Fronk, the Student Princes beat the Fighting Scots, 8-5, in front of a large crowd at Peaceful Valley.
With a trip to the Division III World Series on the line, the two sides will square off again on Saturday. Wooster needs a win in the first game, slated for an 11 a.m. start, to force the if-necessary game. The third game would begin 45 minutes after the end of Saturday's first game. A win in either game would send the Student Princes to the eight-team World Series in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
"We came out and smacked them, they came back and smacked us," said Heidelberg Head Coach Chad Fitzgerald. "We just kept playing … That's been the message all year long."
With Heidelberg (34-13) batting as the visitors on its home field, Kane Bateman and Kyle Jenkins started the top of the first with a pair of base hits. With two outs, the duo scored on a double to the gap in right center by Parker Fronk.
The Fighting Scots (30-14) tied the game in the second with a two-run single by Jacob Stuursma. In the third, Wooster took a 3-2 lead on a solo home run by Dan Gail.
In the fifth, Wooster chased HU starter Alex Sir Louis from the game with two hits and a walk. Mason Metz entered and allowed two inherited runners to score. With two outs and the bases full, left fielder Matt Psychas tracked down and caught a ball belted to the warning track in the left center power alley by Ben Gbur. The catch -- which came two innings after Psychas took a home run away from Garrett Crum with a leaping grab over the wall in left -- saved at least two runs and kept the HU deficit at 5-2.
After Zach Doran drew a leadoff walk in the seventh, Wooster starter Andrew Hill was removed from the game -- replaced by Wyatt Linde. Doran moved to second on a wild pitch, then scored when Robert Hunt dropped a base hit into shallow right field. Bateman followed with a base hit. Linde departed, giving way to Brian Murray. Murray walked Jenkins to load the bases, then hit Marc Ochoa on the tailbone -- forcing in a run. As he did in the first, Fronk delivered a two-run double to the gap in right center -- putting Heidelberg ahead 6-5. With one out, Tyler Smith pushed across another run with a sacrifice fly down the left field line.
Ahead 7-5 in the eighth, Heidelberg added an insurance run. Doran was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Hunt. Bateman delivered a single up the middle that ricocheted off the leg of reliever Dylan Carr and into shallow right. The carom allowed Doran a chance to score easily.
Bateman had three hits on the day while Fronk and Hunt had two apiece. Fronk drove in four runs.
Sir Louis went 4+ innings, allowing five runs on eight hits.
For Wooster, Hill logged 6+ innings and allowed three runs on four hits. Murray (3-4) took the loss, giving up three runs on one hit. Offensively, Stuursma and Harry Witwer-Dukes tallied two hits each.
Saturday's games are scheduled to start at 11 a.m. -- but a shaky forecast might force the games to be pushed forward. A final decision will be made Friday evening. Any changes will be posted to BergAthletics.com and @BergAthletics on Twitter.