NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – A potent combination of sparkling pitching and strong offense proved a successful equation for Manchester University Friday and Saturday, April 14 and 15.
The Spartans survived a furious Hanover College comeback in game one Friday to win 4-3; opened up a 7-2 cushion in the second match-up Saturday before the visiting Panthers played comeback again, forging a 7-7 tie that sophomore shortstop Braxton Riley (Fort Wayne, Ind.) broke up for good drilling a double off the top of the right field wall to plate the eventual winning score in the bottom of the eighth of an 8-7 final; and tallying six runs in their final three at-bats of the series curtain closer in route to a 14-11 win.
Home fans attending the weekend set saw many heroes for Coach Rick Espeset's crew. On the offensive side, senior center fielder Chad Schultz and Riley shared the hit lead with six each with Schultz clouting four two-baggers and Riley ending with two; sophomore right fielder Tyler LaFollette (Warsaw, Ind.) drove in six runs due, in large part, to three doubles; sophomore second baseman Christian Smith (Fortville, Ind.) tripled as one of his three safeties; and freshman third baseman Brandin Frazier (Wabash, Ind.) hit his first collegiate home run among three hits. The pitching highlights for the Spartans (12-15 overall, 9-6 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference) shone just as brightly. Manchester University's staff forged a 2.67 earned run average, as junior starters Brandon Eck (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and Taylor Kopplin (Westport, Ind.) surrendered only a combined two earned runs and struck out 14 over 15 innings. Senior bullpen standout Cory Ferguson (Fort Wayne, Ind.) registered a win in the middle meeting and a save in the opener by not allowing an earned run over three innings of work.
Manchester University continues a current four-game home stand Tuesday, April 18. League rival Andersn University comes to Gratz Field for a 4:15 p.m. first pitch.
NOTES: Schultz' lengthy on-base string continued being added on to over the weekend. By doing so successfully in all three game, he ran it to 25 … Kopplin's 10 strikeouts in the first game of the April 15 doubleheader were a personal single-game high. The double-digit punchout mark was also the most in a contest for the program since Dylan Padgett chalked up the same number in 2014.