By Jim Dixon
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Babson cleanup hitter Jake Oliger blooped a single into left field, bringing in two runs as Babson scored five in the ninth to stun Heidelberg with a 6-5 walk-off win to advance in the 2019 Division III World Series on Day 2 action at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
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The hit capped a wild ninth inning which took 53 minutes and saw seven runs score, with three pitching changes.
"We are familiar with this, we have done this a few times," said Oliger. "They are all great but this is the World Series and nothing's greater than that. I was the ninth guy up and everyone else got the ball rolling. I don't get the chance to do it without everyone getting on ahead of me. This one is as good as it gets."
|Eric Jaun had a single and a triple for Babson on Saturday.
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
Heidelberg stated the ninth inning leading 3-1 and got two insurance runs but it would turn out to be insufficient. With Joey Wenning, the Heidelberg closer on the mound, Babson opened their turn at bat with a triple by Eric Jaun that the right fielder could not reach and chased the ball to the outfield wall. Edward Lehr's single brought home Jaun and the deficit to three runs. Walks to Nicholas Browne and Thomas Lapham loaded the bases for Brian McHale. A sacrifice fly brought home Lehr and the Beavers were still two runs short. Conner Gill singled to left to reload the bases and a base on balls by Wenning made the margin a single run. Tristan Phillips relieved Wenning to face Oliger who deposited his low slider into the outfield and the celebration was on.
"This is one of those great years we are having where we have had a few games like this," said Babson head coach Matt Noone. "I said yesterday we will make then get 27 outs and grind through it."
Both pitchers were in control early. The Heidelberg starting pitcher, Trevor Adkins, struck out five, four looking at the third strike, in the first pass through the Babson line up. Adkins carried a no-hitter into the fourth to see Jake Oliger blemish the hit totals with a single to left. Babson's starter, Michael Genaro was also dealing up zeros though the first four innings.
"It is a bigger field, a bigger atmosphere," said Adkins. "I was able to mix up pitches and mix up looks every once in a while. I hit my spots where my catcher had set up. All I have to do is go out and throw strikes and my teammates have my back."
"He was dominant for six innings and battled in the seventh," said Heidelberg head coach Chad Fitzgerald about Adkins.
"I just trusted my game," said Genaro about his performance. "My command was not where I like it to be so they hit a lot of balls hard. Your motivated to keep your team in the game, however you can do that. Our job as a starting pitcher is to give our team a chance to win.
Jaun hit a drive to deep center with two runners on the bases in the fourth inning. Heidelberg's center fielder, Robert Hunt, turn and ran it down, leaping at the last minute with full extension to make the catch, preventing two runs in what was a scoreless game at the time.
"I saw the ball go up and I thought I got to go get it as fast as I can," said Hunt. "Our first rule in the outfield is to go catch the baseball."
"That was one of the better ones I saw," said Fitzgerald. "He has been a great defensive centerfielder for us all year long. It was a big play, in a big game, in a big moment."
"I thought it was over his head," said Oliger. "I was around second base when he caught it. I just got back to first as fast as I could but that was one of the greatest plays I have seen in college baseball."
Heidelberg opened their scoring in the fifth. Eric Devore worked a walk from Genaro and took second on Zach Doran's single over second base. Kane Bateman followed with a RBI single for a 1-0 lead.
The Student Princes added two more run in the sixth. Marc Ochoa and Tyler Smith both singled and scored on Devore's double that split the left and centerfielders.
Babson hitters finally tallied a run of their own in the seventh. Oliger 's second single of the game was followed by a base knock by Jaun. A wild pitch by Adkins moved up the runners with a Lehr sacrifice fly plating the Oliger. The score would remain 3-1 until the fireworks in the ninth.
Babson continues in the World Series with a Sunday game at 1:15 ap.m. against the loser of the Johns Hopkins and Birmingham-Southern contest tonight. Heidelberg has been eliminated from the D-III World Series.