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News Photo
Baseball - Sat, Aug. 27, 2016

Video Footage: https://twitter.com/BRXPerformance/status/769371307821690881

NEW YORK – After four games in the New York Yankees bullpen, Olivet Nazarene University baseball alumni Ben Heller ('13) made his Major League debut on Friday, August 26 at Yankee Stadium.   With the Yankees leading 14-3, manager Joe Girardi called on Heller to pitch the 8th inning.  

The former Tiger retired the first two Baltimore Orioles batters before getting Hyun Soo Kim to ground to first. Soo Kim, however, reached on an error after Heller mishandled the throw from Tyler Austin.  By extending the inning, Heller then faced slugger Manny Machado. Machado had already connected on two home runs in the game, his 30th and 31st of the season. Heller then induced a broken bat ground ball with a 97 mph fastball and shortstop Didi Gregorias flipped to Starlin Castro for the final out of the inning. 

After the game, Heller thanked everyone for the support and said, "Making my debut was better than what I've ever dreamed of it being".  In attendance were his wife, Martha ('13), numerous family members and Heller's four college roommates, including one who flew in from Ecuador that day. 

"We are so proud of him and Martha," said ONU Head Baseball Coach Todd Reid said of Heller's journey. "It takes more than just talent to do what he's done.  God has certainly gifted him with that, but his dedication and ability to overcome adversity is why he made it.  I was so proud to see the support he receives from his former Olivet teammates. All of Tiger Baseball is rooting for him."

The Yankees are now 5-0 with Ben in pinstripes and hoping to make an improbable playoff run with a group of youngsters.  Girardi commented in his press conference after the game, "They are all playing well and we believe."