FT. MYERS, Florida -- A fierce comeback in the Florida twilight helped the Heidelberg University salvage a split on Friday. Heidelberg lost to Nichols College, 14-10 in the morning before beating Rhodes College, 11-7, in the evening.
Heidelberg moved to 6-3 with the split.
Mat Psychas -- Four hits, three RBI, two runs.
Evan Long -- Four hits, two walks, three runs.
Alex Manner -- Three hits, four RBI.
Joey Rydzewski -- Three hits, four runs.
GAME ONE: Nichols 14 Heidelberg 10
Nichols put up a four-spot in the bottom of the third off HU starter Alex Sir Louis. The sophomore recorded the first two outs before allowing the damage. A two-run single down the left field line capped off the scoring in the frame.
Nichols added two more runs in the fourth on a wild pitch and an RBI groundout.
Nichols answered in the bottom of the frame by tacking on a run.
A Rydzewski groundout in the seventh plated Jacobs and brought the score to 7-4.
Nichols had two runners on in the bottom of the seventh. A fielding error allowed for a run to score. After the error, the home team added another run with a safety squeeze. HU relief pitcher Tristan Phillips escaped the jam leaving the bases loaded.
Nichols scored four times in the eighth to distance themselves from the Berg with a commanding 14-4 lead.
Heidelberg would not go down quietly, as they score six times in the top of the ninth. A Kyle Slovick single and a Rydzewski walk led off the inning for HU. Psychas followed with a single to score Slovick. Manner walked to load the bases with no outs.
Darrin Shirk drilled a double to left center to bring home Rydzewski and Psychas. Long followed up the double with an RBI groundout.
Down to their final out, the Student Princes scored two more times. Fronk singled and Jacobs doubled, but the Berg rally ended without a groundout.
Sir Louis (0-2) took the loss for Heidelberg, giving up six runs in 3.1 innings.
GAME TWO: Heidelberg 11 Rhodes 7 (8 innings - Darkness)
The beginning of the second game wasn't pretty ... and the end of the game was pretty dark.
Rhodes scored four unearned runs in the second off of starter Alex Simun. After HU scored in the top of the third, the Lynx added two more in the bottom half of the frame. Simun went three innings, allowing six runs (one earned). He walked five.
In the fifth inning, Heidelberg turned a triple play -- only the third in Division III this year. On a hit-and-run with runners on first and second, Ryan Palermo lined a screamer to Long at second. He caught it, threw to Rydzewski at second, who then fired to Fronk at first for the triplet-killer.
A solo home run put Rhodes up 7-1 in the sixth.
With their hopes fading as quickly as the Florida sunshine, Heidelberg got to work in the seventh. Shirk reached on an error and motored to third on a base knock by Long. Joe Walton hit a tapper back to the mound that was mishandled, allowing a run to score.
After a pitching change, Joey Wenning snuck a double inside the bag at third, plating Long. Following an RBI groundout by Rydzewski and a popout, Manner bounced a single into center, scoring Wenning. Fronk walked before Hershberger slashed a single to right. Fronk was tagged out trying to get to third, capping a five-run inning.
In the eighth, Long -- who made a spectacular defensive play earlier, sliding to his right, gloving and gunning to first -- ignited a five-run rally with a single to left and moved up on a wild pitch, then on a passed ball. Slovick, the pinch-hitter extraordinaire, tied the game with a basehit down the left field line. Pinch runner Ryan Marasti swiped second and eventually scored the go-ahead run on a single to center by Psychas. Manner sent a bouncer back through the box, plating two more. The last run scored on another RBI single by Hershberger.
With shadows covering the entire field, Cory Jacobs worked a scoreless eighth before play was called due to darkness.
Zach Doran (2-0) picked up the win, working 0.2 innings of perfect baseball. Brady Ansara, who relieved Simun, only allowed one run in 3.1 innings of work -- allowing The Berg to stay within striking distance.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
As exciting as the comeback in Game Two was, the contest was a bit sloppy. Teams combined for nine errors.
Rydzewski extended his hitting streak to nine games this season. Dating back to his freshman season, he has hit safely in 16 straight games he has played for Heidelberg.
Doran and Jacobs have combined for 10.2 scoreless innings in seven appearances. Opponents are hitting .156 off the pair of righthanders.
Slovick is 3-for-3 in four pinch hit opportunities. The other time, he didn't see a pitch before a runner was picked off to end the inning.
QUICK HITS WITH FITZ
Fitzgerald on the comeback: "I thought the guys out of the bullpen played a key role in what ended up being truly a team win ... Everyone contributed ... It would've been easy to give up, but we found a way to win."
Heidelberg wraps up the Florida trip with a 10 a.m. game against No. 14 Keystone (2-2). Live stats will be available at BergAthletics.com.