NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – Freshman designated hitter Joe Gallatin (Muncie, Ind.) has gotten plenty of attention across the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference and beyond in 2017.
His heroics Sunday, April 30, add to his remarkable first year collegiate resume. Trailing defending conference regular season and tournament champion Rose-Hulman 5-4 in the bottom of the fifth of a series finale at Gratz Field, he stepped to the dish and sent a long fly ball to right field that cleared the top row of bleachers for a two-run home run and a 6-5 lead. Manchester University added a single tally in the sixth and then had Mother Nature step in for assistance in the top of the seventh to ensure a memorable Senior Weekend.
The Fightin' Engineers (17-18, 15-8 HCAC) answered Gallatin's bomb with one of their own in the top of the seventh and added another tally for an 8-7 edge. However, soon thereafter, a decision was made to the call the contest with a steady rain continuing to fall and field conditions worsening. Due to that, the rally went by the wayside and led the Spartans (17-18, 15-8 HCAC) to second place on the loop standings with a 7-5 decision.
Manchester University's offense also had positives from senior center fielder Chad Schultz (Fair Oaks, Ind.) who drilled a two-run double and a trio of sophomore shortstop Braxton Riley (Fort Wayne, Ind.), junior left fielder Eric Knepper (Bremen, Ind.) and sophomore second baseman Christian Smith (Fortville, Ind.) who each had an RBI. Riley also scored two runs.
During an afternoon that could have made B.J. Thomas, Paul Newman and Robert Redford happy as raindrops fell on the heads of both teams throughout, the Black and Gold claimed the middle contest 9-8 as it was completed from a suspended state of the following evening. Senior relief pitcher Cory Ferguson (Fort Wayne, Ind.) held off a ninth inning rally by the visitors that saw them plate a run and put the tying run at second with two outs. His fourth save was closed with a grounder to senior third baseman Kevin Clarke (Cincinnati, Ohio) that led to a tag at the hot corner and the final out.
The Spartans, wrapping up their first sweep of the Fightin' Engineers since 2010, move into the final week of the regular season Tuesday, May 2. Anderson University comes to North Manchester for the season series finale which has a 4:15 p.m. first pitch.