CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- The return to the national stage for the Heidelberg University baseball team did not go as planned for fans of the Student Princes. Heidelberg lost to No. 15 Birmingham-Southern College, 6-1, in Game Four of the NCAA Division III Baseball Championships. The Panthers outhit Heidelberg, 11-4.
The Student Princes (35-14) fall into the consolation bracket. Their battle back begins on Saturday, when they will face Babson in an elimination game. The contest will be the third of the day, slated for a 4:30 p.m. central / 5:30 p.m. eastern start.
"I thought we came out a little flat," said Heidelberg Head Coach Chad Fitzgerald. "I didn't execute our style of play very well."
The Panthers (40-13) struck in the top of the first. Brian Williams singled and moved to third on a double by Tyler Wise. Tyler Hamel drove in a run with a grounder to Parker Fronk at first. After a hit by pitch, an infield single by A.J. hunt plated another. Heidelberg starter Alex Sir Louis avoided further damage by getting the final two outs on weak fly outs.
In the second, Cole Steadman singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Williams drove him in on a single down the right field line. Sir Louis would again limit the damage by stranding a pair.
Down 3-0, Kyle Jenkins picked up Heidelberg's first hit of the game with one out in the fourth. With two outs, Marc Ochoa drew a walk. Parker Fronk sent a line drive to left center -- but left fielder Rich Misischia saved two runs with a sensational diving catch.
Sir Louis battled through two scoreless frames before again running into a jam in the fifth. He loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batsman. Cayden Rollins entered and got a grounder to first. Fronk threw home for the out, but Ochoa's relay back to first was a half-step too late. Steadman -- the No. 9 hitter -- cleared the bases with a double to left center.
Sir Louis (9-3) worked 4.1 innings and allowed six runs on six hits. Rollins worked 0.2 innings, giving up one hit. Ryan Keane, working for the first time since April 30, worked four scoreless innings.
Panthers starter John Michael Shirley (7-3) went a full six innings. He allowed two hits and struck out nine.
BSC reliever Andy Hammond entered in the seventh and was greeted by a single by Zach Doran. Kane Bateman followed with a one-out single up the middle that sent Doran to third. The 'Berg shortstop scored on an RBI ground out by Jenkins.
Hammond settled in and picked up a three-inning save -- the first of the season. Hammond appeared to get pinch hitter Jake Davis to line into a double play to end the game, but the call was overturned by video review. Hammond would need four more pitches before getting a game-ending fielder's choice.
Offensively, the Panthers were led by three-hit efforts by Steadman and Williams.
Though dejected, the Student Princes have been a resilient squad all season. Heidelberg has not lost back-to-back games since dropping a doubleheader at Baldwin Wallace on April 18, 2018.
Each Heidelberg starter struck out at least once.
The four innings by Keane set a career high for the freshman. His previous high was a three-inning outing in a 7-0 loss to No. 14 Misericordia on March 2.
Saturday's Heidelberg-Babson game will be broadcast on NCAA.com, with an audio-only broadcast on BergAthletics.com.