Appleton, Wis. – May 30, 2010 – The no. 2 ranked Heidelberg University baseball team regrouped and returned to its winning ways today. The Berg posted an 8-3 win over the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in an elimination game of the 2010 Division III Baseball Championships at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wis.
The win improves Heidelberg to 42-7 on the year, while the Titans close out the year at 34-18. The 42 wins mark a new single season record for the Berg. It tops the former record of 41 that was set in 2008.
“We have played three great games here at the World Series,” said 11th-year head coach Matt Palm. “I think the story has been our pitching and the play of our defense. Three guys have taken the mound and gone six plus innings and have kept the game to three runs to give us a chance to win.”
Click here to listen to the press conference following the game.
Making a statement early in the contest was right-handed starter Nathan James (South Spencer, Ind. / Rockport). James is coming off pitching the Berg to its Mideast Regional Championship last weekend and picked up right where he left off.
“I came out with a lot of confidence from the start,” said James. “Regionals last week helped me to enter today’s game without any jitters and it allowed for me to pitch well.”
Over the course of the first six innings, James and a solid ’Berg defense sat down UW-Steven Point’s first two batters of every inning. Included in that mix was four James strike outs, as well as three innings where the Titans went three-up, three-down.
In the end, James went 7.0 innings to improve to 8-2 on the year. He struck out six, while giving up just eight hits. He allowed just one earned run and walked one.
“Nathan did a great job setting the tempo of the game for us early,” said Palm. “He did a tremendous job keeping them at zero until we could get our offense going.”
Heidelberg’s offense thrived in the second with two outs. Elvin Williams (Euclid, Ohio / Euclid) brought new life to the Berg at the plate with a double to left field to score Alex Monroe (Chagrin Falls, Ohio / Kenston) for the first run of the ballgame. Derek Andrzejczak (Sylvania, Ohio / Sylvania Northview) scored on Williams’ play off a fielding error by the left fielder to push Heidelberg’s advantage to two. Ricardo Lizcano (Toledo, Ohio / Roy C. Start) followed Williams lead with a RBI single through the left side to plate Williams.
After two quick outs in the top of the third, the Pointers strung together three consecutive hits, with the latter being a RBI single through the left side to erase a shutout.
Williams and Lizcano went back to work in the fourth. With two outs, Williams started things up with a single through the right side. Lizcano then put two on the base paths with a single to right field. Steve Decker (Maumee, Ohio / Springfield) followed with a single through the left side to score Williams to put Heidelberg on top 4-1.
Heidelberg continued its strong at bats in the fifth inning and nearly batted around. Willie Brechun (Canton, Ohio / Canton Central Catholic), Jason Lash (Strongsville, Ohio / Strongsville) and Monroe loaded the bases and forced a pitching change by UW-Stevens Point. Andrew Buelow (Marysville, Mich. / Marysville) settled in quickly with the new Pointer hurler and sent his first pitch seen out to center field to plate Brechun and Lash. Two batters later, Williams had a sacrifice fly to right field to score Monroe. Buelow eventually rounded the base paths to score on a RBI single by Lizcano to left center field. The four-run fifth gave Heidelberg an 8-1 lead.
After two scoreless innings on both sides, the Pointers threatened in the eighth. UW-Stevens Point got a RBI single before loading the bases. Heidelberg brought in right-hander Sylvester Nino (Willard, Ohio / Willard) out of the bullpen to close out the inning. Nino got a RBI ground out double play up the middle and sat his second batter down looking to end the inning with UW-Stevens Point scoring just two runs.
Nino returned to face four batters in the ninth. Nino got a ground out to short stop and two strike outs to end the ballgame in favor of the Berg, 8-3.
Nino closed out the final two innings of action and did not allow a hit, while striking out three to pick up his first save of the year.
At the plate, Heidelberg finished with 12 hits led by a 4-for-5 outing by Lizcano. Lizcano knocked in two runs as well. Williams went 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored, while Brechun finished at 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Next up for the Berg is Linfield University tomorrow, May 30. Linfield and Illinois Wesleyan University are playing in the final game of the day at the championship, but no matter what the outcome, the Berg will face Linfield tomorrow because the two have yet to meet at the championship.
“We are excited to be here and are going to stay here as long as we can,” said Palm.