Bop! A Psychas grand slam vaults HU into super-regionals

ADRIAN, Michigan -- A sixth-inning grand slam by Matt Psychas propelled the Heidelberg University baseball team to a 9-6 victory over host Adrian College -- and into the super-regional round of the NCAA Tournament.

Heidelberg will face the College of Wooster in a best-of-three super-regional next weekend. Peaceful Valley will be the host site, as announced by the NCAA late Sunday.

The Student Princes are regional champions for the first time since 2010, which, under the old tournament format, sent the team to the Division III World Series. HU improved to 33-13 on the season

"It's what we've done all year long," said Head Coach Chad Fitzgerald. "We play as hard as we can for as long as we can."

In the bottom of the second, Heidelberg struck first. Tyler Smith drew a walk and moved to third on a ground-rule double by Eric Devore. As Zach Doran grounded out to the pitcher, Smith sprinted home as soon as Jordan Williams threw to first. Smith slid in ahead of the tag, giving Heidelberg a 1-0 lead.

Adrian answered in the third. Brandon Cooper singled and Zach Zschering walked. Thomas Miller followed with a well-placed bunt that went for a single. Gunner Rainey followed with a single to left center, putting the Bulldogs up 2-1. Starter Tristan Phillipslimited the damage to just the two runs.

With two outs and the bases empty, the potent Heidelberg offense got to work. Doran hit a ground-rule double to center to start the rally. Down 0-2, Robert Hunt battled back in his at bat. He ripped a triple into the right field corner, plating Doran. Kane Bateman followed with an RBI single to left center. Next, Kyle Jenkins hit a double into the right field corner which allowed Bateman to sprint home -- giving Heidelberg a 4-2 lead.

The Bulldogs responded immediately -- scoring three runs on three hits. The big blow was a two-run triple off the wall in left center. Mason Metz relieved Phillips and got out of the inning with a ground out.

Down 5-4, but undeterred, Heidelberg answered. A throwing error on what could been an inning ending 3-6-3 double play put runners on the corners with one out. Devore lifted a sacrifice fly to right center that plated Marc Ochoa.

Tied at five with a steady rain falling in the bottom of the sixth, the Student Princes took the lead. Hunt led off with a bunt single, then moved to third on a single by Bateman. Jenkins drew a walk to load the bases. Matt Psychas electrified the bench and the crowd by hitting a fence-scraping home run over the double-high fence in left center. The grand slam -- the eight homer of the season for Psychas -- put The Berg up 9-5.

Metz (4-1) threw 2.1 innings of scoreless relief before giving way to Brady Knizner. Knizner, working his third day in a row, allowed a hit, but no runs.

Ahead 9-5 in the ninth, Heidelberg turned to closer Joey Wenning. After the first two batters made outs, the Bulldogs sprang to life. A hit by pitch and an infield single put two on. Cooper doubled to deep right, plating a run. After a long battle, Wenning got Zschering to fly out to right center -- touching off a Heidelberg celebration at Nicolay Field.

Bateman finished with three hits on the day, while Ochoa and Hunt tallied two. Bateman and Hunt each scored twice.

For Adrian, Spencer Ford (0-2) took the loss in relief. Rainey, whom Heidelberg elected to intentionally walk in the ninth inning of the Friday's game, had two hits. Jason Croci had four hits, including the double off the wall in the fifth.

The Peaceful Valley complex hosted softball super regionals at Frann's Field in 2015.

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