BEREA -- Strong pitching, solid defense and superb hitting sent the Heidelberg University baseball team into the finals of the OAC Tournament. Facing elimination, Heidelberg walloped Baldwin Wallace, 11-3 before beating Ohio Northern, 10-0. With the big wins, Heidelberg will face Otterbein on Saturday -- needing two wins to claim the tournament title.
Matt Psychas pounded out seven hits on the day -- including a pair of home runs in the win over Ohio Northern.
GAME ONE: Heidelberg 11 Baldwin Wallace 3
Both suffering upsets on Thursday, No. 1 seed BW and No. 2 seed Heidelberg met in a midday game.
Kane Bateman worked a leadoff walk and moved to second on a groundout. Psychas singled to center, giving HU a 1-0 lead in the first.
After Adkins struck out the side in the bottom of the first, Heidelberg added a run in the second. With two on and one out, Zach Doran reached on a fielder's choice. After getting a force at second, an errant throw to first allowed Tyler Smith to score.
Down 2-0 at home, the Yellow Jackets rallied in the bottom of the second. With two on and no outs, Reese Albright sent a bunt back to the mound. Adkins threw to third to try to get the force, but Jacob Bonner slid in a hair before the ball arrived. With the bases full, Brandon Dim shot a single to right. After Bonner scored, the throw from Bateman to Marc Ochoa at the plate was deemed a bit late by the home plate umpire -- tying the game at 2-2.
The game stayed tied until the start of the sixth inning. There, Parker Fronk blistered his second home run in as many days, putting Heidelberg in front, 3-2. In the seventh, Kyle Jenkins singled home Robert Hunt.
As the rain clouds did on Thursday, the floodgates opened for the 'Berg offense in the eighth. An Eric Devore single was sandwiched between bunt singles by Smith and Doran. Hunt beat out an infield single on a weak tapper up the first base line, plating Smith. Bateman followed with a single through the right side, scoring Devore. After a pitching change and a strikeout, Psychas doubled down the left field line, scoring two. Ochoa sent a liner into center to drive in the final run of the five-run frame.
HU tacked on two more runs in the ninth. Devore doubled, Doran had a bunt single and Hunt walked. Bateman sent a bouncer that was gloved by the pitcher. After getting the force at second, the shortstop's errant throw to first allowed two runs to cross the plate.
Baldwin Wallace was able to add an unearned run in the ninth off of reliever Brady Knizner. Knizner threw two innings, allowing the unearned run on four hits
Adkins (6-4) worked seven full innings and allowed two runs on six hits. He struck out six and walked two.
GAME TWO: Heidelberg 10 Ohio Northern 0
With little time to dwell on the victory over BW, Heidelberg had to turn its sights on avenging Thursday's loss to the No. 4 seed Ohio Northern. After Phillips stranded two in scoring position in the top of the first, Heidelberg struck early.
In the bottom of the first, Bateman was hit by a pitch before singled by Jenkins and Psychas loaded the bases. Ochoa sent a sacrifice fly to right -- giving the Tricolor a 1-0 lead.
Bateman sent a hard-hit bouncer up the middle that ONU starter Josh Mohr got a bare hand on. Unable to make an out, Devore scored from third. With runners on the corners, a balk was called -- which pushed Doran across the plate. Psychas punctuated the inning with a no-doubter, two-run home run to left.
Up 5-0 in the third, Heidelberg added two more. Smith reached on a fielding error, then plopped and crawled to third on a single by Devore. While Smith -- who dove toward third a tad early and scampered to the bag, Devore moved to second. The pair scored as Doran served a single down the right field line.
Meanwhile, Phillips (6-0) was cruising. After allowing two hits in each of the first three innings, he did not allow a runner to get to second for the rest of the contest -- including Luke Klinehoffer, who was nailed at second trying to stretch a single into a double.
A passed ball and a Fronk single allowed two more runs to score in the bottom of the sixth.
Heidelberg's final run came in the eighth. Psychas launched a solo home run to left
Phillips threw 110 pitches in his complete game shutout. He struck out four.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE:
The Phillips shutout is the first its kind for Heidelberg since Cameron Deemer shut out ONU in 2017.
Psychas is the third Student Prince with a multi-homer game this season, joining Jenkins (3/1 vs. Mitchell) and Devore (3/27 vs. Defiance).
In the double elimination format, Heidelberg will need to beat Otterbein twice on Saturday in order to win the title. The winner received the conference's automatic qualifying spot in next weekend's 58-team NCAA tournament. First pitch with the Cardinals is slated for noon.