WASHINGTON, Penn. – "I'm ending this game right here." Those were the thoughts of shortstop Joey Rydzewski before stepping to the plate in the bottom of the 10th inning for Heidelberg. The freshman came through in the clutch to cap off a 4-for-5 game, hitting a walk-off single up the middle to send the Student Princes to a 6-5 win over La Roche in their opening game of the 2015 NCAA Mideast Regionals. With the win, the Berg moves on to play Shenandoah tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.
Starting pitcher Derek Hendrixson did not have his best stuff Saturday evening, but it was enough to keep the Student Princes in the game as it wore on.
Both teams went quietly in the first inning, bringing the Redhawks to the plate in the second.
A pair of two-out RBI doubles by La Roche gave them an early 2-0 lead.
After Heidelberg went down in order again, the Redhawks were able to score one more on a sacrifice fly to left on a ball that Christian Verde robbed a home run.
The Student Princes were unable to keep La Roche off the board in the fourth as they scored one more, but the Berg had an answer.
With one out and a runner on, Verde blasted a home run to left, cutting the Redhawks' lead in half.
La Roche found a way to get in the scoring column again in the fifth when a two-out double was blooped into no-man zone in left center, falling between Verde and Joey Rydzewski. That run stretched the score to 5-2 in favor of the Redhawks.
That score held until the bottom of the 7th when the Berg battled back. Steven Morse led off the inning with a bang, driving a solo home run down the right field line. Later in the innings with two outs, Doug Miller came through with a clutch RBI single through the right side to make the deficit just one entering the 8th.
The one-run hole held until the bottom of the ninth when Heidelberg came to bat. After a strike out to lead off the inning, Rydzewski singled through the right side, promptly advancing to second on a passed ball. After a groundout by T.J. Harkness advanced Rydzewski to third, Miller came to bat. Down to his final strike, the senior came through again, drilling a single to left-center to tie the game and send it to extra innings.
Hendrixson's day was done after nine full innings on the mound and Jimmy Kenosh was called upon in relief. Kenosh got the job done out of the bullpen and sat down La Roche 1-2-3 in the top of the 10th, setting up the Student Princes for the bottom of the inning.
After a lead off strikeout, Morse reached on a fielding error by the Redhawk shortstop. Alex Grove then moved Morse to third with a single to center. The La Roche pitcher then picked up a key strikeout for the second out of the inning. Rydzewski then came to the plate and finished off his stellar game with a hard ground ball up the middle to end the game for a 6-5 win.
Rydzewski led the way with his four hits in the ballgame while Miller and Verde each drove in a pair of runs.
Hendrixson threw nine innings while giving up 10 hits and five runs, all earned, while striking out six.
Kenosh picked up the win with his one perfect inning of relief and improved to 2-1 on the year.
Head coach Chad Fitzgerald on the team's performance as a whole: "I thought Derek and Jimmy gave us a chance to win, and we had some guys who had some big days at the plate."
Fitzgerald on what he tells the team as they game wears on: "We tell them to relax. We had the comebacks earlier in the year and then it died down a bit. We just tell them to relax, trust in what they do, and the game will come to them."
Steven Morse on his approach when he hit his home run: "He was throwing a lot of fastballs early in the count, and that was my approach in that at-bat. He threw a fastball and I was fortunate enough to put a good swing on it."
Joey Rydzewski on his game-winning hit: "I was just trying to work the count and do whatever I can to help the team out. I said to myself before I got to the plate 'if I get up here, I'm ending this game right here and I did', but it was the help of our pitchers that kept us in it the whole game."
Fitzgerald on Doug Miller's clutch hit in the 9th: "It was a senior making a senior move. Sticking to what he knows and not being overwhelmed with the situation. "