***Doubleheader PPD until Sunday at 1 p.m.
TIFFIN, Ohio—With the momentum of a three-game winning streak, the Heidelberg University baseball team will welcome John Carroll University to Peaceful Valley on Saturday for a key Ohio Athletic Conference doubleheader in Tiffin, Ohio. The first game is slated for 1 p.m. The Berg is currently tied for fifth place in the league standings, but trails JCU by just one game four fourth place. With two doubleheaders per team left in the regular season, seven teams are still in contention for the remaining three spots in the upcoming 2012 OAC Baseball Tournament.
This weekend’s slate of league doubleheaders features two key match-ups in helping to determine the four-team field for the OAC tournament heading into the final weekend of league play (May 4-5). In addition to Heidelberg-JCU, Marietta College travels to Berea to face Baldwin-Wallace College. Marietta, which has already clinched a berth in the tournament, sits atop the league standings with a two-game lead over second-place the University of Mount Union, and B-W is in third place, but just three games out.
Heidelberg (20-15, 7-7 OAC) has won its last three games, including a 9-4 win Tuesday over The College of Wooster for 13th-year head coach Matt Palm’s 400th career win, and a 14-6 victory Wednesday over Wittenberg University that secured the program’s 13th straight 20-win season. Against Wittenberg, senior righty Sly Nino (Willard) struck out four in a season-high 6.0 innings and earned the win, while five Student Princes had multi-hit games, led by senior left fielder Ross Pruitt (Elletsville, Ind./Edgewood) and freshman third baseman/designated hitter Steve Kisan (Lakewood/St. Edward), who had three hits apiece, while sophomore shortstop Andrew Zenczak (Brunswick) drove in three runs.
Pruitt and senior right fielder Ricardo Lizcano (Toledo/Start) lead the Student Princes at the plate. Pruitt (.386, 30 RBI, 0 HR, 33 R) is fifth in the OAC in batting average, runs scored and hits (49), and is sixth in RBI, and has a team-best 17 multi-hit games. Lizcano (.333, 39, 7, 30) leads the circuit in home runs, walks (24) and slugging percentage (.659), is second in runs batted-in, and seventh in on-base percentage (.456), and leads the team with 12 games with two or more RBI. Freshman first baseman Eric Monroe (Chagrin Falls/Kenston) (.365, 23, 2, 20), freshman designated hitter Trevor Oldham (Akron/Archbishop Hoban) (.333, 12, 0, 19), and Kisan (.314, 18, 1, 26) also pace the ‘Berg attack. Oldham is sixth in the OAC in OBP (.457).
Lizcano, who already holds school career records in home runs (33) and walks (104), is tied with Jeremy Wentworth (2006-09) with 16 career triples and needs three total bases to beat Jason Lash’s (2008-11) mark of 419. He is also a career .394 hitter, just 20 points shy of Frank Balogh’s (1998-2002) .414 clip, and is slugging 23 points (.690) higher than Aaron Fischer’s (1996-2000) career record of .667.
On the mound, junior right-hander Tyler Fruhwirth (Beavercreek) and freshman righty Ryan Minteer (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) anchor the starting rotation. Fruhwirth (4.00 ERA, 32 K, 54.0 IP) is 4-3 in 10 appearances (eight starts) with two complete games (one shutout), and is fourth in the league in innings pitched and tied for 10th in wins. Minteer (3.64, 25, 42.0) is 2-2 in nine appearances (six starts) with one complete game.
Senior righty Daniel Brannum (Jamestown/Greeneview) and junior right-hander Teddy Lowe (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) guide the bullpen with a combined 39 appearances. Brannum (4.05, 37, 40.0) has made 19 appearances and is tied for fifth in the league in wins (6-0) and is tied for seventh in strikeouts, while Lowe (5.34, 17, 28.2) is 3-2 with one save in a team-high 20 appearances. Heidelberg is 8-2 when both appear in the same game.
The Blue Streaks (17-15, 8-6 OAC) have won seven of their last nine games following a 3-1 non-conference win Wednesday against Ohio Wesleyan University. Mitchell Herringshaw (.383, 22, 2, 26) leads the JCU offense and is sixth in the OAC in hitting and eighth in hits (46). Ryan Konsler (.343, 23, 0, 15), Mark Huddle (.327, 21, 1, 23), and Tom Hickey (.322, 13, 1, 17) also aid the Blue Streak attack.
On the hill, Jimmy Spagna (2.97, 24, 57.2) is 3-4 in 10 starts with two complete games (one shutout) and leads the OAC in innings pitched and is 10th in earned run average. Anthony Libertini (4.46, 21, 34.1) is 3-2 in eight appearances (seven starts). Tyler Ferretti (3.30, 13, 30.0) is 2-3 in 13 appearances out of the bullpen and Patrick O’Brien (8.59, 18, 29.1) is 0-3 in 10 appearances.
Following Saturday’s doubleheader, Heidelberg will face Defiance College in its final non-conference game of the regular season before hosting league foe Capital University on Saturday, May 5 on Senior Day.