BASE: Shirk's six hits help salvage split

(Photos by Mason Hainey)
(Photos by Mason Hainey)

TIFFIN -- A six-hit afternoon for Darrin Shirk (including all four parts of the cycle) helped the Heidelberg University baseball team salvage a mid-week conference split with John Carroll University. With neither contest being very sharp, the Blue Streaks won the opener 12-5 before the Student Princes rallied for a 14-6 win in the nightcap.

By week's end, Heidelberg will have played the top five teams in the conference, based on current standings. The Student Princes are 16-8 overall, 4-4 in the conference. To date, they have played the fifth-toughest schedule in all of Division III baseball, tops among teams in the Mideast region.

GAME ONE: JCU 12-12-2 BERG 5-12-2

Down 2-0, Heidelberg tied the game with a pair of runs in the fifth. Darrin Shirk, who had three hits in the game, singled on a hard-hit ball past the JCU third baseman. After stealing second, Shirk scored on a soft single to center by Joey Rydzewski. Rydzewski read the throw well and moved to second on the play. He scored when Evan Long sent a bouncer through the right side.

Justin DeWitt led off the sixth with a single, then raced home on a line drive triple to center by Shirk. Shirk gave HU a 4-2 lead by scoring on a wild pitch.

In the top of the seventh, JCU had runners on the corners with one out Patrick Keohane sent a bouncer to short that appeared to be a double-play ball. The throw to second for the first out was offline and sailed into foul territory down the right field line. The misplay sent Heidelberg reeling. John Carroll would take the lead with four in the seventh and six more in the eighth.

DeWitt managed to score one in the eighth, but the deflated Student Princes could not muster a rally.

GAME TWO: BERG 14-17-2 JCU 6-14-3

With two on and one out in the top of the first, Monroe Donnelly sent a ball toward short that looked as though it could've been an inning-ending double play. Instead, the ball struck the umpire and was ruled an infield single. From there, the visitors would score four times to put the Student Princes in a large hole.

Moved up in the order, Shirk paid dividends early by launching a solo homer to left in the first.

Down 4-1 in the fifth, Heidelberg erupted for six unearned runs -- all with two outs. With the bases chucked, Matt Psychas reached on an error that brought in two. Kyle Slovick gave HU the lead with a two-run double to left center. He scored in a DeWitt single. Joe Sefik followed with a single to right that was misplayed, allowing DeWitt to score from first.

Ahead 7-5 in the seventh, Heidelberg tacked on three more. Marc Ochoa drove in two with a two-out single to left field, plating Slovick and DeWitt. Joe Walton drove in Ochoa from second with a bouncer up the middle.

The Student Princes removed all doubt in the eighth with another four runs. Shirk doubled and Long singled before Matt Psychas recorded an RBI single to right. Slovick followed with an RBI fielder's choice. After a Parker Fronk single and an Ochoa walk, two wild pitches brought in the final HU runs.

John Carroll scored a run in the ninth.

Joey Wenning (2-1) picked up the win in relief of Sam Ankrom. Wenning threw 5.2 innings, allowing one run on seven hits -- giving the Heidelberg offense enough time to rally. Ochoa did not allow a run in 1.2 innings. Anthony Hajdu struck out the side in the ninth.

UP NEXT:

The Berg continues its trek through the OAC gauntlet this weekend, with Mount Union (13-7. 4-2 OAC) scheduled to visit Peaceful Valley on Saturday. Saturday's forecast is not promising, which may prompt a schedule change -- which would be posted on BergAthletics.com.