Marietta, Ohio – May 21, 2010 – For the second time in three years the Heidelberg University baseball team has earned a spot in the Mideast Regional Championship game of the NCAA Division III Baseball Championships. Heidelberg landed a spot in the title game following a 9-2 victory over Penn State University-Behrend today, May 21.
Marietta College is hosting the Mideast Regional at Don Schaly Stadium in Marietta, Ohio. Heidelberg, under the guidance of 11th-year head coach Matt Palm, is the top-seed of the seven-team regional and stands at 39-6 overall. Aside from its win over the no. 7 seeded Lions (31-16) today, Heidelberg opened up play at the regional with a 9-8 victory over Adrian College, who is the fifth seed, on Thursday.
Now the Student Princes wait to see who they'll play Saturday in the championship. Three teams are still alive — Marietta, Thomas More College and Behrend.
"I heard people talk about being the No. 1 seed and how many games you have to play to win it, said Palm. “ You still have to win games. There are a lot of good teams in this tournament. Our guys have done a great job putting us in this position."
After four scoreless innings on both sides, Ricardo Lizcano (Toledo, Ohio / Roy C. Start) provided a spark for the Berg offense with a solo home run to left field in the top of the fifth. Lizcano’s home run began a streak of five straight scoring innings for the Berg. His long ball also tied the Heidelberg single season record of 15 which was set by A.J. Schlea in 2006.
“We've seen a lot of good pitching this year, so we needed to adjust and get more confident," said Lizcano. “Leading off the fifth I felt this was our inning to get on the board.”
Andrew Buelow (Marysville, Mich. / Marysville) doubled Heidelberg’s run total with a RBI single to right center in the sixth before Penn State-Behrend erased the shutout in the bottom half of the inning.
Behrend’s Ryan Jacobs had a balk in the seventh that plated Lizcano and Derek Andrzejczak’s (Sylvania, Ohio / Sylvania Northview) bases loaded ground out in the eighth scored Jason Lash (Strongsville, Ohio / Strongsville) to put the Berg on top, 4-1.
Heidelberg closed out its scoring in the ninth off the swing of Alex Monroe (Chagrin Falls, Ohio / Kenston). Monroe had a grand slam over the left field fence to push Heidelberg’s final run total to nine. The Lions added its second run in its last at bat to close out the scoring.
Heidelberg’s hitters combined for 13 hits on the day. Leading the way was Lizcano and Monroe with 3-for-5 outings. Monroe had four runs batted in, while Lizcano scored twice. Also finishing with multiple hits was Lash.
The junior pitching duo of Brian Koehl(Sylvania, Ohio / Sylvania Northview)and Andy Lowe (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Carroll) worked together to keep the Lions at bay throughout the entire contest.
Friday's top performance has to go to Koehl, who scattered six hits, while striking out five over 6.1 innings as he improved to 9-0 on the season. Koehl said facing the tournament's lowest seed in Friday had no bearing on their approach.
"We just looked at it as another team,” Koehl said. “We saw them beat Wooster and they're a good team. It was just another good team going against another good team. Locating my fastball helped out a lot and my slider looked pretty good."
Heidelberg’s single-season save record holder was called upon to close out the final 2.2 innings, but it was not an easy decision for Palm.
"It's an easy decision on one end and tough on another because Brian had pitched so well," Palm said. "Andy has been so tough against everybody, but especially against lefties. I felt it was the right time to bring Andy in, but it was a tough decision to take Brian out of the game."
Koehl agreed with Palm's decision to put in Lowe.
"I always want the ball,” Koehl said. “It was a close game. Andy's one of the best and we were in a close situation."
Lowe allowed just two hits, one earned run and struck out four to pick up his 11th save on the year.
Heidelberg is on a roll heading into the regional championship game. Its win today marked its 16th straight and they are not planning on letting up anytime soon. The Berg is in search of its first trip to the Division III World Series in Appleton, Wisc.
“We have a fire in our eyes,” said Lizcano. “We want to get to Appleton."