Are Marietta College and Heidelberg University on another collision course on the diamond?
That answer will be provided during the next few days of the 2011 Mideast Regional Baseball Tournament at Don Schaly Stadium. The two Ohio Athletic Conference schools were not scheduled to meet on the first day of the competition. But after Wednesday, it's any fan's guess.
Marietta, the top seed in the ME tournament, eliminated Frostburg, 7-2, Wednesday night, while Heidelberg, the No. 2 seed, downed seventh-seeded Penn State-Altoona, 12-5.
MC, No. 1-ranked in NCAA Division III with a 39-3 record and the owner of a 15-game winning streak, defeated HU (34-11) twice (4-0 and 7-3) to clinch last week's OAC Tournament championship at Don Schaly Stadium.
The Pioneers split with the Berg (12-0, 6-8) in regular-season competition. In fact, the Etta Express's last setback was to the Student Princes in Tiffin on April 17.
"We have a good book on Heidelberg because of the rivalry," said Marietta skipper Brian Brewer. "We've seen their hitters quite often over the last three or four years.
"We respect their ability as a club. Coach (Matt) Palm and his staff do a great job with those guys."
Marietta senior center fielder and OAC MVP John Snyder agreed and added, "Heidelberg's an excellent opponent. You can't give them any life. We had a chance in my freshman year to beat them, and we let them off the hook.
Last year, Heidelberg had the upper hand, derailing the Etta Express 6-2 in a Mideast Regional title game at Don Schaly Stadium.
With that victory, the Student Princes clinched their first berth in the World Series, where they finished runners-up.
Going into this season, the Berg was ranked No. 1 in the pre-season poll but fell off, and then eventally was overtaken by the Pioneers.
"They're a very good team," said Palm of the 2011 Marietta College baseball squad.
"It's hard to believe that somebody could play at the level they've played at from start to finish.
"I mean, they played extremely well today (in last Saturday's OAC final), but they've played extremely well all year. That's a tough thing to do."
The Heidelberg skipper paused.
"We feel like we've had a very good season," Palm continued, "and that we're one of the top teams in the country. We hope to get another crack at Marietta."
Of course, the rest of the Mideast Regional field - Adrian College, Franklin College, Frostburg State University, Case Western Reserve, and Penn State-Altoona - will certainly have something to say about whether or not Marietta College and Heidelberg University hook up again.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org