Head coach Roger Schroeder said Monday that the Marion High School baseball team goes as lead-off hitter and right fielder Taylor Heidebrecht goes.
He delivered at the plate against Ell-Saline. He went 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs; he drove in the run that put the Warriors up 10-0 in the first game. He went 2-for-3, scoring two runs in the second game, a 9-0 victory called in the bottom of the sixth due to lightening.
Heidebrecht also made an unforeseen contribution. He started on the mound for Marion in the first game. He only surrendered one hit while striking out 11 in a complete game shutout.
His pitch selection and delivery befuddled Cardinal hitters. Heidebrecht often started at bats with hard breaking backdoor curve balls. On Monday, he would throw consecutive curve balls for strikes and then punch out a hitter with a knuckle ball.
“Everything was working,” Heidebrecht said.
Heidebrecht employs a snapping motion on his delivery that allows him to get a dramatic downward break on his pitches. Ell-Saline hitters were often seen swinging wildly over the top of pitches for strikeouts.
Despite having a sweeping break on his curve ball, and a knuckle ball being a notoriously difficult pitch to control, Heidebrecht got ahead of most hitters with 0-2 and 1-2 counts on the afternoon. “Get ahead, stay ahead,” was the consistent refrain from Schroeder in the dugout.
“I want to preach that to all our guys,” Schroeder said. “It makes everything easier.”
Heidebrecht had one other start this season, also a complete game shutout in five innings against Canton-Galva. He received the opportunity to pitch Monday because of a finger injury to Jacob Harper. Although Harper has been cleared to start throwing, Schroeder said, Heidebrecht has earned more opportunities on the mound, whether in a relief or starting role.
“We’re going to keep going with a four-man rotation,” Schroeder said.
Helping Heidebrecht on the mound with a 2-for-3, 2 run, 1 RBI effort in game one was the second game pitcher Grif Case. Schroeder agreed that it was good karma that Case also received 9 runs of support in his start.
“We need to play the same however it happens, but things do tend to snowball when good things are happening,” Schroeder said.
Case was also effective on the mound Monday, pitching a complete game shutout with six strikeouts. He was not as dominant as Heidebrecht and had to work his way out of two bases loaded jams.
“Grif didn’t have his best stuff tonight,” Roger said. “But he didn’t allow a run and he had the strikeouts. I hate walks and he does too.”
Case’s hardnosed attitude on the mound will be a key component to Marion’s success down the stretch. The goal for the team is to finish 4-0 to end the season and secure the No. 1 seed in the Warriors’ regional.
Schroeder elected to start Case against Ell-Saline and pitch Ethan Hett and Austin Pedersen against regional opponent, Hillsboro on Friday. Schroeder wants Case available to close potentially close games. Case has had success against Hillsboro, pitching two gems against the Trojans last season, although in losing efforts.
“I know they’re a good team,” Schroeder said of Hillsboro. “They played a tough schedule. We know they can play.”