NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – Senior third baseman Hunter Lane (Nappanee, Ind.) crunched three hits, leading a group of four Manchester University hitters with multiple-safety contests to spotlight a game one victory during a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader Wednesday, April 11.
Lane's resume against visiting Bluffton University at Gratz Field gave the home crowd plenty to cheer about. He scored three times, tripled and drove in two runs to go with the three hits. Junior catcher Matt Pritz (LaPorte, Ind.) added a two-for-three, two-RBI effort and the middle infield duo of junior Christian Smith (Fortville, Ind.) and freshman Michael Pinarski (Goshen, Ind.) each tallied two hits.
Those numbers were part of a game in which Coach Rick Espeset's squad found itself trailing 7-2 after four and a half frames. MU (14-13 overall, 4-4 HCAC) put the offensive pedal to the medal in the fifth through seventh innings, sending nine runs home in route to a thrilling 11-8 victory. Senior starter Stephen Pinarski (Goshen, Ind.) went eight workman-like innings in which he Ked seven BU hitters to gain his third victory. Senior Brandon Eck (Fort Wayne, Ind.), in the teeth of a potential visitors' comeback in the ninth with the bases loaded and two outs, got a one-out save when he induced a fly ball to right field.
The Spartans, searching for a home sweep, were turned aside by a robust three-pitcher rotation from the Beavers in game two. Starter Hunter Mills surrendered only three hits and no earned runs, while relievers Jack Bondy and Colby Clifton were touched for a run on five hits over the last five innings. BU's offense got to Spartan starter Jordan Hilyard (Decatur, Ind.) with three runs over their first two chances and then struck for a decisive three-run sixth inning outburst in route to a 6-2 decision.
Manchester University is scheduled to resume HCAC action Saturday, April 14. Franklin College takes a northern trip to North Manchester for a 12 p.m. start.