Big MACs: Locals crown Division I college careers – The Durango Herald | Hot Mobile Press

Heydinger, Rütschle leave the same conference

Taed Heydinger pitches for the University of Akron. Heydinger, a 2016 graduate of Bayfield High School, recently retired from college. (Courtesy University of Akron Athletics)

Taed Heydinger fired the same number of pitches (101) as the number of fans reportedly in attendance at the YMCA’s Kennedy Center Field in Huntington, West Virginia on Sunday, March 8, 2020, making baseball history from the University of Akron (Ohio) as he finished the pitcher’s record in the first win of the born-again program.

Five days and two losses after a 7-4 away win — former major league player Chris Sabo’s first win while skippering Akron — over Marshall University without a conference, the COVID-19 pandemic ended the Zips’ season. But Heydinger — a 2016 Bayfield High School graduate who started Akron’s debut on Feb. 16, a 4-3, 14-inning loss to Oakland University of Rochester, Michigan in Game 1 of a home doubleheader — settled not deterred, though Akron posted a 1-12 overall record (0-0 Mid-American; NCAA Div. I).

Akron was cleared 21 for a full schedule, moving up to 15-36 (8-32 MAC) with Heydinger on the pitching staff. Despite a similar 15-41 in 2022, Akron posted an improved MAC mark of 11-29.

The Zips couldn’t have gone higher, either, as they defeated the University of Purdue-Fort Wayne 11-0 on May 21 while grad student Nick Arrivo closed the game with a grand slam in the seventh inning. He’d also ended Game 2 of the previous day’s doubleheader home game at Skeeles Field with a homer, giving Akron a 7-6 win over the Mastodons – who had unfortunately clinched a 6-5 win in Game 1 while Heydinger had a nine lost an -inning full game (but batted seven) in what would end up being his last appearance on a college hill.

On July 12, he received final recognition when the Mid-American Conference announced their 2022 Academic All-MAC selection. Heydinger, one of 16 Zips most honored at the conference including Arrivo, achieved a GPA of 3,642 while majoring in marketing. Akron Baseball as a whole had a grade point average of 3,021 for the 2021-22 school year.

To qualify for the award, a MAC student-athlete must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.20 and have competed in at least 50% of the competition in a given sport.

Tyler Ruetschle, a 2017 graduate of Durango High School, is running for Ball State University. He finished this season at Ball State 2-2 in 26 appearances with a 7.49 ERA, 55 strikeouts and 32 walks. (Courtesy of BSU Photo Services)

At Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, 11 baseball players earned Academic All-MAC, and while Tyler Ruetschle, a 2017 Durango High School graduate, wasn’t among them, the former Demon was still a contributor to a high-profile crew.

The Cardinals compiled a 32-7 MAC record in first place during the regular season and finished the season 40-19 overall – only the third 40-win season in BSU baseball history – after playing in BSU with 11-7 to Central Michigan University – host of the championship game of the MAC Tournament on May 29th.

In promotion to the NCAA tournament via the conference automatic offer, CMU improved to 42-17 at the time.

Two weeks earlier, on the Senior Day upon Ball Diamond at First Merchants Ballpark Complex, Ruetschle made his final appearance for the Cards. And even though Ball State fell 15-10 at Ohio University, Ruetschle excelled. In the last 1.1 innings, he was missing no hits, not conceding runs, and fanned out all four Bobcats he faced.

Ruetschle saw no action in BSU’s four-game Miami (Ohio) road sweep that wrapped up regular-season work, nor in any of Ball State’s four MAC tournament clashes.

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Through an unfortunate twist of fate, Heydinger (ex-Fullerton, Calif., College) and Ruetschle (Lamar, Colorado, CC) never really stepped on the same ground in the same game during their time in Mid-American.

Due to the aforementioned pandemic, Heydinger was unable to face off in 2020, when the Zips welcomed the Cardinals 21 to a four-game set in skeeles, Heydinger received no decision (6-2/3 IP, 8 H, 2 R, ER, 0 BB, 4K) in his appearance in Game 2. Ruetschle worked a mop-up inning in Game 4 as BSU won the series by a 34-7 aggregate lead.

Heydinger’s last win in Akron Togs came on April 8th. He started and pitched six innings in a 10-6 home win over Western Michigan. Exactly a week later, he lost 3-8 in Game 1 of the teams’ four-game set at Ball State. Ruetschle, on the other hand, fired off a frame of relief in Game 3 when the BSU delivered a 16-0 seven-inning shutout booked.

During Ruetschle’s three seasons at Ball State under longtime boss Rich Maloney — who was named one of two winners of the American Baseball Coaches Association’s Dave Keilitz Ethics in Coaching Award in July — the team went 85-46 overall and 61 in the MAC game -18 .

Tusk Tasks

Ruetschle continued his baseball career this summer with the independent Utica, Michigan-based United Shore Professional Baseball League and recorded his first win this month. When fielding for the Westside Woolly Mammoths on July 2, he recorded a scoreless relief inning and scored three hits, and his team then scraped two runs in the bottom of the sixth – and final – inning to defeat the Utica Unicorns by 2: 1 to defeat Jimmy Johns Field.

Through July 27, Ruetschle was 2-0 in eight games and 9.2 innings with an earned run average of 1.86 plus a 19-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He finished 2-2 with a 7.49 ERA, 55 strikeouts and 32 walks in 26 appearances (45-2/3 IP) at Ball State.

One of Ruetschle’s teammates at Westside is outfielder Greg Vaughn, Jr., son of the former slugger, who hit 355 home runs in 15 MLB seasons ending in July 2003 with the Colorado Rockies. Vaughn has also hit 103 homers in four minor league seasons, including 26 in 1989 – his last summer in the minors – with the Denver Zephyrs.

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