Appleton, Wis. – May 31, 2010 – The no. 2 ranked Heidelberg University baseball team’s record breaking season came to an end today in a 6-4 setback to Linfield College at the 2010 Division III Baseball Championships at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wis. Heidelberg opened up a 4-0 lead after four innings, but Linfield plated five runs in the eighth for the victory.
Heidelberg, under the guidance of 11th-year head coach Matt Palm, was making its first appearance at the World Series in the history of the program that dates back to 1959. The setback concludes Heidelberg’s season at 42-8, while Linfield improves to 37-12. The 42 wins by the Berg marks a new single season record, topping its 41 victories in 2008.
The year concluded at the World Series, but getting there was no easy task. Heidelberg opened the year winners of seven straight in its annual trip south during spring break. Following a handful more non-conference wins in Ohio, the Berg opened up play in the always tough Ohio Athletic Conference. Heidelberg started league play at 4-3, before rattling off 11 consecutive OAC wins to claim its fifth regular season title. The winning streak continued into the OAC Tournament where the Berg was the host school and it went on to go 3-0 and win its fourth title and secure a spot in the Mideast Regional. Heidelberg went 3-0 at the regional hosted by Marietta College to claim its first ever regional championship, which landed the Berg among the last eight teams standing to vie for a national championship.
“I am very proud of our players,” said Palm. “They came out here and give it their all. The support we received from our parents, administration, faculty, alumni and friends was outstanding and we truly appreciate it. Ultimately we came a little short of our goal, but we had a truly great experience.”
Heidelberg will lose two players, and captains, to graduation in right-handed pitcher Everett Thomas (Nashua, N.H. / Evansville (Ind.)) and catcher Steve Decker (Maumee, Ohio / Springfield). This duo helped to guide the Berg to an overall record of 148-42 and a 58-14 OAC mark since 2007.
Wasting little time getting its offense going was Heidelberg, scoring three runs in the first inning. Alex Monroe (Chagrin Falls, Ohio / Kenston) had a bases clearing double to left field with two outs to knock in all three ’Berg runs. Scoring on the hit was Decker, Gar Keen (Sparta, Ohio / Highland) and Jason Lash (Strongsville, Ohio / Strongsville).
After two scoreless innings on both sides, Heidelberg’s hitters went back to work. Andrew Buelow (Marysville, Mich. / Marysville) led the inning off with a single down the right field line and was followed by another solid at bat by Monroe, who connected for a RBI single to put the Berg on top 4-0.
The Wildcats broke onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Scoring was halted on both sides for another inning, before the Wildcats began to settle in at the plate.
In the bottom of the eighth, Linfield got an RBI single from Cole Bixenman to pull within 4-2. The Wildcats went on to load the bases before Rhett Fenton hit a grand slam over the left field fence to put Linfield on top for the first time in the game, 6-4. Fenton’s home run proved to be the game-winning run.
Thomas got the starting nod on the hill and threw a spectacular game. Making his first start in over a month, Thomas threw a four-hitter over 5.2 innings of work. He opened the game striking out at least one Linfield hitter in each of the first three innings. Thomas gave up just one run, one earned, while walking three.
“What Everett did today on the mound was nothing short of spectacular,” said Palm. “He is a big game pitcher and he wanted the ball today.”
Sylvester Nino (Willard, Ohio / Willard) came in relief for 1.1 innings. He gave up three runs, three earned, while striking out two.
Closing out the game was Andy Lowe (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Carroll). He finished the game and gave up two hits and two runs, two earned.
At the plate, Heidelberg finished with nine hits. Monroe went 2-for-4 with two doubles and three runs batted in. Keen finished at 2-for-4 with a run scored and a walk. Keen led the defense with five putouts and three assists.