COLUMBUS – On the final day of the regular season, Heidelberg University baseball was eliminated from postseason contention. Heidelberg and Capital University split a doubleheader, with the Crusaders winning game one 14-12 and Heidelberg taking game two, 6-5.
After Heidelberg (20-20, 8-10 OAC) battled back from an 8-2 deficit in game one to take a 12-10 lead into the bottom of the seventh, Capital’s Andy Grillo belted a walk-off three-run homer to left center.
The Student Princes struck first with a pair in their first at bat. After a Steve Morse (Scottsdale, AZ/Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, MI) laced a double down the right field line to put runners on second and third, Derek Hug (Bryan) hit a two-run single to center.
The Crusaders cut the lead in half in the bottom of the first. Nate Campbell worked a walk off of ‘Berg starter Ethan Holt (Galion/West Holmes), stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. He scored on a groundout by Taylor Branisel.
Capital (21-17, 8-10 OAC) took the lead with a four-run third inning. Matt Carnahan highlighted the inning with a two-run homer down the left field line.
The Crusaders took an 8-2 lead with three more runs in the fourth off of Holt.
Heidelberg battled back with three runs in the fifth, even though the ball never left the infield. A pair of choppers up the middle and an error allowed the runs to score.
Leading 8-5, Capital added a pair in the bottom of the fifth on a single by Grillo.
In the top of the sixth, Heidelberg scored three runs to close the lead to 10-8. Joe Staab (Bellville/Clear Fork) had an RBI single and Eric Monroe (Chagrin Falls/Kenston) hit a two-run double.
In the seventh, pinch-hitter Trevor Oldham (Akron/Hoban) singled to score Doug Miller (West Friendship, MD/Glenelg Country School). With two outs, Arneal Squibb (Mishawaka, IN) was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Morse was also hit by pitch, which plated T.J. Harkness (Fremont/Ross) for the tying run. Monroe singled to left to score Oldham and Squibb. Monroe finished the game with five RBIs.
In the bottom half of the inning, Holt allowed the first two to reach before was relieved by Teddy Lowe (Fort Wayne, IN/Carroll). Another walk and a sacrifice fly set up Grillo’s heroics. Grillo finished 4-for-4 with five RBIs.
Holt fanned nine Crusaders in six-plus innings.
Capital scored a run in the bottom of the first to take the lead in game two.
Jordan Martin (Powell/Olentangy Liberty) ripped a two-run double to left to give Heidelberg a 2-1 lead in the second.
Heidelberg added a pair in the third on RBI singles from Oldham and Harkness.
Trailing 4-1, Capital responded with a run in the third and two in the fourth to tie the game. In the fourth, Adam Manner (Bellevue) relieved starter Steve Huber (Pataskala/Watkins Memorial).
Martin hit his second two-run double of the game in the sixth to give Heidelberg a 6-4 lead.
Manner picked up the win, his team-high fifth victory of the season.
Senior Danny Kilger (Novi, MI) relieved Manner to start the eighth and closed the game for the first save of his career. The Capital ninth was not easy for Kilger. A pair of singles and an infield error loaded the bases. Grillo hit an RBI fielder’s choice when the throw from shortstop Andrew Zenczak (Brunswick) to Staab at second was too late to force out pinch runner Christian Ross. The next batter, Nate Campbell, was retired on a beautiful over-the-head catch by Harkness in left. The runner on third, Brian Wyer, failed to tag up and had to retreat to the base. Kilger induced a 1-2-3 double play to end the threat.
The game is the final contest for seniors Martin, Kilger, Holt, Lowe and Tyler Fruhwirth (Beavercreek).
This is just the second time in head coach Matt Palm’s 14-year tenure at Heidelberg that the team failed to advance to the four-team OAC tournament.