Marietta, Ohio – May 21, 2011 – When there is a championship on the line on the baseball diamond in the Ohio Athletic Conference or the Mideast Region it has become customary that a battle will play out between Heidelberg University and Marietta College. And the 2011 NCAA Mideast Regional Championship game was no exception. It was the second straight year that Heidelberg and Marietta met in the title game and this year the Pioneers came out on top 2-1 in a hard fought battle. A season earlier it was the Berg who landed in the top spot with a 6-2 win. Marietta was the host institution and the top-seed of the seven team regional, while the Berg was the second seed.
Heidelberg, ranked 10th in the nation, concludes its campaign at 36-13 overall. Its 36 wins ranks fourth in a single season for wins in program history. It stands behind its record 42 wins from 2010, 41 (2008) and its 37 wins in 2009.
The Berg also graduates 12 seniors who have helped guide the team to new heights over the last four seasons. Included in its list of seniors is Jason Lash (Strongsville, Ohio / Strongsville), Gar Keen (Sparta, Ohio / Highland), Willie Brechun (Canton, Ohio / Canton Central Catholic), Alex Monroe (Chagrin Falls, Ohio / Kenston), Andrew Buelow (Marysville, Mich. / Marysville), Brian Koehl (Sylvania, Ohio / Sylvania Northview), Andy Lowe (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Carroll), Nathan James (Rockport, Ind. / South Spencer), Derek Andrzejczak (Sylvania, Ohio / Sylvania Northview), Mitch Jones (Dayton, Ohio / Oakwood), Brandon Stucky (Medina, Ohio / Medina) and Joe Rourke (Lockport, Ill. / Lockport Township). Also graduating is senior student assistant Blake Thornton (Olivet, Mich. / Olivet).
Marietta got off to a quick start scoring a run early and settling in to load the bases with one out in its first at bat. Heidelberg starter Chris Thomas (Canton, Ohio / Perry) went on to take control of the inning by striking out the next two batters to get out of the jam. Thomas worked from behind 3-0 to get the second out before throwing just four pitches for strike out number two.
The host Pioneers once again threatened in the second, but Thomas, who was making his first collegiate start found a way to get out of the jam. The Berg defense helped with a double play and Thomas recorded another strike out.
Heidelberg tied the game in the top of the third. Ricardo Lizcano (Toledo, Ohio / Roy C. Start) walked to lead the inning off and moved to second on a Brechun single. After a wild pitch Lizcano was 90 feet away to set up a ground out RBI by Lash.
The Pioneers regained the lead with an unearned run in the fifth. The leadoff batter got on courtesy of a Heidelberg miscue and eventually scored on a triple by Tim Saunders.
Thomas gave way to Lowe in the seventh and helped to keep the Pioneers at bay. Over the next two innings Marietta was limited to just seven batters and no runs.
The Berg did not go away and threatened for a two-out rally in the eighth, but left two runners on. With two outs to start the inning Keen gave new life to the Berg with a single to left field and Lizcano made it two on base with a walk.
In the end, Heidelberg finished with seven hits. Lizcano led the way going 2-for-2 with two walks and a run scored.
Thomas suffered the loss on the mound. The freshman right-hander threw a four-hitter to the no. 1 team in the nation over six innings of work. He allowed two runs, one earned, and struck out four, while walking one.
Heidelberg landed a spot in the championship game earlier in the day. The Berg held off sixth-seeded Case Western Reserve University 16-6 in an elimination game.