Appleton, Wis. – May 28, 2010 – In a battle of the top two teams in the nation, it came down to the ninth inning for a winner to prevail in game three of the 2010 Division III Baseball Championships at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wis. The no. 2 ranked Heidelberg University baseball team topped no. 1 Johns Hopkins University 3-2 to continue on in the winner’s bracket of the eight-team championship. Lawrence University and the Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau are hosting what has come to be referred to as the Division III World Series May 28-June 1.
With the game tied at two runs apiece in the top of the ninth, Jason Lash (Strongsville, Ohio / Strongsville) stepped up to the plate with two runners on and one out. The starting short stop connected for a RBI single to center field to plate Steve Decker (Maumee, Ohio / Springfield) for the game-winning run. Decker led the inning off with a single of his own to reach the base paths.
Stepping up to the plate in the ninth was nothing out of the ordinary for Lash. “I stayed focused and calm, and approached that at bat with the same confidence I do every time I am up. We had a lot of chances to score early, but the team did not quit. We stuck with it. Steve did a great job at getting things going in the ninth and we built off of that.”
Lash continued with his strong ninth inning on defense, fielding two ground outs before closer Andy Lowe (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Carroll) retired the side, striking out the next batter to send the Berg into the win column.
The game featured two of the top offensive teams in the nation, but both sides displayed some strong pitching early to set the tone for the game. Battling on the mound for Heidelberg was freshman right-hander Ethan Holt (Galion, Ohio / West Holmes), while Johns Hopkins went with righty Alex Eliopoulos.
The Berg broke onto the scoreboard in the sixth. Back-to-back RBI at bats by Elvin Williams (Euclid, Ohio / Euclid) and Ricardo Lizcano (Toledo, Ohio / Roy C. Start) erased the scoreless tie. Williams knocked in Alex Monroe (Chagrin Falls, Ohio / Kenston), who led the inning off getting hit by a pitch. Lizcano plated Andrew Buelow (Marysville, Mich. / Marysville), who had a bunt single.
Holt continued to keep the Blue Jay hitters at bay through 6.1 innings. He limited Johns Hopkins to just six hits and no runs. Lowe came in with runners on the corners and one out, but forced a first pitch ground out double play to end any threat.
On the mound, Holt had a no-decision. “Ethan did a tremendous job of stepping out there on the mound on the national stage tonight,” said 11th-year Heidelberg head coach Matt Palm. “He put us in a situation to win the ballgame.”
Johns Hopkins strung together three hits in the bottom of the eighth to tie the ballgame. The Berg did not falter and went to work to get a ground out followed by a Lowe strike out to set up its ninth inning rally.
“This was a great way for us to start here at the World Series,” said Palm. “This is how baseball is played at this stage. Give both pitchers all the credit in the world, they both pitched out of trouble and everyone came out to play.”
At the plate, Heidelberg’s hitters finished with 11 hits on the night. Leading the way was Buelow going 3-for-4 with a runs scored. Finishing with two hits a piece was Lizcano and Decker.
The win improved Heidelberg to 41-6 overall, which ties for the most wins in a single-season. The victory also extends Heidelberg’s winning streak to 18 games. Following the setback, John Hopkins stands at 43-6.
Heidelberg continues play at the World Series on Saturday, May 29 against Illinois Wesleyan University. First pitch is slated for 7:45 p.m. central standard time.