Heivilin’s heroic hit lifts Cats over state-ranked Vikings

Three Rivers wins season opener, 6-5

THREE RIVERS — Jalen Heivilin’s line drive down the left-field line in the bottom of the ninth inning gave Three Rivers’ varsity baseball team a thrilling 6-5 win over Division 2 No. 5-ranked Niles Friday at home.
Heivilin’s poke to deep left field drove home Zack Ludwig from third base with the winning run.
Ludwig led off the Wildcats’ half of the ninth with a double to right field. The Calvin College signee reached third on Sam Hawkins’ sacrifice fly to right field setting up Heivilin’s heroics.
“We thought about trying a suicide squeeze bunt at the end, but we looked at our batting order and just felt Jalen could get a base hit for us,” said Three Rivers coach Kim Losik. “Niles is a good baseball team. Our defense is going to keep us in a lot of ballgames this season. Today it held us together other than a few little mental mistakes.
“Our basehits were key. We had a lot of line drives that we hit in key situations.”
Heivilin, a returning letterwinner from last season, also picked up the win on the mound in relief.
Only a sophomore, Heivilin tossed the final inning for Three Rivers giving up one walk.
Senior Alex Minger started the game for the Cats. He went two innings allowing one hit with two strikeouts and one walk before a problem with his elbow forced him to leave the game.
Senior classmate J.T. Hack finished the third inning with two strikeouts, one hit and three unearned runs allowed for Three Rivers. Ryan Levandoski, a Bluffton College signee, spun the next five innings allowing three hits, three walks with two strikeouts and two earned runs.
“We just have to wait and see what’s going on with Alex’s elbow. Ryan came in and pitched a heckuva ballgame for us after J.T. left. His (Hack’s) curveball got him into a bit of trouble. He’s coming off an elbow problem that kept him out last season for a portion of the year,” Losik said.
“Ryan threw strikes and kept us in the game by mixing up his pitchers extremely well. Jalen came in and got the job done in that last inning.”
Suffering the loss for Niles, which finished last season 22-16, was senior Bryce Lake in relief. Lake tossed the final 1 1/3 innings for the Vikings allowing two hits, one-earned run with one strikeout.
Jakob Huffman started the game for Niles and threw the first three frames allowing two hits, two walks, three runs, including one earned.
Huffman’s brother Drew Huffman took over in the fourth allowing three walks, two hits, two runs with only one being earned and he posted three strikeouts.
Three Rivers took a 2-0 lead after one inning.
With one out, Heivilin singled, stole second and scored on an error. Carson Charvat scored the other Wildcat run in that inning after he reached on a fielder’s choice and eventually scored on Levandoski’s RBI single.
Three Rivers added a single run in the second to build its lead to 3-0.
Please see Saturday’s Commercial-News print or e-edition for the full article.

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