The 2017 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference campaign begins at Manchester University's Gratz Field this weekend.
Game details: The Spartans (3-8) resume a run of seven games in six days with the Lions' visit … Start times are 1 p.m. Friday, March 24, for a pair of nine-inning contests and 12 p.m. Saturday, March 25, for a single nine-inning game … Live audio, statistics and video for all three match-ups is accessible via a link at www.muspartans.com, the Internet home of Manchester University athletics … The Black and Gold have claimed 19 of the last 21 from MSJ in recent series history.
Spartan Shorts: Manchester University, HCAC final four participants in 18 of the last 20 seasons, was selected for another such ending with the release of the 2017 league baseball coaches poll in late January. Coach Rick Espeset's Spartans received 84 points for a second-place standing, trailing only preseason favorite Earlham College … They enter the weekend having split their last six outings after an 0-5 start. That uptick is due to a sparkling 2.48 earned run average for the pitching crew and four players (junior outfielder Eric Knepper, Bremen, Ind. - .375/senior outfielder Chad Schultz, Fair Oaks, Ind. - .346/sophomore outfielder Tyler LaFollette, Warsaw, Ind. - .318/senior first baseman Tailur Szarenski, Bluffton, Ind. - .300) swinging the bats at a rate of .300 or higher … In their most recent appearance, a furious five-run rally in the latter innings wasn't enough to upend D3Baseball.com top-25 ranked Otterbein University March 22. Schultz, as part of a two-home run, three-RBI, two-runs-scored afternoon, launched a solo shot in the top of the first as part of a two-run visiting effort. Junior starting pitcher Stephen Pinarski (Goshen, Ind.) kept things nip-and-tuck early, surrendering only two runs on five hits over four innings as part of a 2-2 tie, but, in the home half of the fifth, Otterbein used a lead-off walk and error to stage a five-run, four-hit, two-out campaign to give themselves a 7-2 lead. The Spartans answered that with a five-run comeback in the top of the seventh, as Schultz delivered a two-run round tripper, and LaFollette tagged a three-run bomb for a 7-7 tie. The two sides kept it that way until the home team managed a run in the ninth due to a double, wild pitch and single for the 8-7 decision. Szarenski finished with a hit and two runs scored, and senior designated hitter Lucas Gramman (Lawrenceburg, Ind.) contributed an RBI to aid the offense. The bullpen was strong again, allowing only one earned run on six hits over the final three and two thirds innings.
League Road Trip: The Black and Gold take an eastern trek for a doubleheader at Defiance College Tuesday, March 28. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.