Spartans claim NCAA D3 Mideast Regional title, on to College World Series
TERRE HAUTE, IND. – Manchester University coach Rick Espeset could see something in his team when they got on the bus for the 2013 NCAA Division III Mideast Regional Championships.
“There was just never any doubt in our guys eyes from the beginning of the week on,” he said after the 2013 Spartans became the second team in program history to advance to the NCAA Division III College World Series.
“These seniors and the entire team have been working towards this,” he added. “It was great to see this team get this championship against a fine Marietta program.”
As has been the story throughout the season, the Black and Gold (39-5-1) had many individual heroes in their 8-5 championship game win. Four players turned in multiple hit games, led by senior outfielder/pitcher Bryce Murphy (Ossian, Ind.) who ended with two hits, including the game-decided bases-loaded double to the left center field fence in the bottom of the fifth to highlight a four-run rally. Senior first baseman Brad Murphy (Fort Wayne, Ind.), extending his remarkable on-base streak to 34 straight games, also added two hits and an RBI, while junior third baseman Jordan Nieman (Michigan City, Ind.) went two-for-five with his 70th RBI of the year. Fellow infielder Trevor Kimm, a sophomore second baseman from Anderson, Ind., ended with two hits and two RBIs as well.
The 11-hit attack helped spark a tremendous pitching effort from junior Temujin Sery (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and Bryce Murphy. Sery, in his fourth start of the year, limited the powerful Pioneer offense to the five runs while striking out five and only issuing one walk.
“I’m so glad the coaching staff had the faith in me to pitch in this type of game,” he said. “It came down to throwing strikes to (freshman catcher Elliot) Ford today, just like the guys before me. This is an awesome feeling.”
“TJ was awesome today,” Espeset said. “He did exactly what we needed him to do.”
After Sery’s six-plus innings of work, the ball was turned over to the ever reliable Murphy in the seventh inning. He wriggled out of a two-on, two-out jam, with the help from an unassisted double play from Brad Murphy and then worked past a Marietta baserunner in the eighth and then worked a perfect ninth as senior center Austin Rieke (Fishers, Ind.) hauled in the final out on the track.
“Words can’t describe how this feels,” the tournament Most Valuable Player said. “It truly is amazing right now. We have been working hard to get here.”
Murphy ended the weekend with three saves, upping his season total to 14, with 10 and two-thirds shutout innings. He also hit .471 with four doubles, eight runs scored and five RBIs. He was joined on the all-tournament team by senior shortstop Corey Marchant (Fort Wayne, Ind.) who finished with six hits, seven runs scored, two doubles, a home run and eight RBIs, and Kimm who had seven hits, two doubles and seven RBIs during the four games.
MU, on a 16-game win streak, advances to the 2013 NCAA Division III College World Series at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wisconsin. The Spartans open the tournament against UW-Whitewater Regional Champion UW-Stevens Point Friday, May 24, at 5:30 p.m.
TERRE HAUTE, IND. – Bryce Murphy is willing to do whatever it takes to help his team.
The senior outfielder/pitcher from Ossian, Ind., for the second successive night, took to the mound in the sixth inning and put down a tough opposing offense Friday, May 17, at the 2013 NCAA Division III Mideast Regional. His effort helped lift the Spartans (38-5-1) past two-time defending national champion Marietta 10-5 in the winner’s bracket.
“I’m used to the role I’ve got (in relation to being called on in key pitching situations),” he said. “This is my senior year. Who knows if playing baseball will be in my future, so I’m going to make as much as I can out of these chances.”
“We’ve had some great players in this program over my 17 years,” Coach Rick Espeset said. “Bryce is among the ones who have played a great role in impacting this program.”
With the home side Pioneers (31-13) threatening in the sixth with two on and one out and the Black and Gold nursing a 7-5 lead, Coach Rick Espeset turned to his veteran left hander. Murphy entered and put out the fire en route to working a line that consisted of three and two-thirds innings with two strikeouts and just two hits surrendered for his 12th save.
Murphy was also part of a strong offensive effort for the Spartans. Manchester University opened the game with three hits and a quick run scored and then tacked on five in the top of the third for a 6-0 advantage. Marietta did chip away, scoring two times each in the fourth and fifth innings, but MU responded with one in the seventh and two in the eighth for their 10-run total.
“The quick start was, obviously, important for us,” Espeset said. “It gave us confidence. We knew, coming in, we were playing one of the historic programs in Division III,, so we had to take advantage of our opportunities.”
Murphy’s heroics didn’t stop on the mound. He also drilled three doubles as part of a four-hit, three-run scored night. He was joined by fellow senior Corey Marchant (Fort Wayne, Ind.) who continued his hot bat at regionals with two key doubles that drove in four runs. Sophomore second baseman Trevor Kimm (Anderson, Ind.) also came up big at the plate with three hits, including a two-run double in the eighth that plated two important insurance runs, while sophomore designated player/outfielder Kyle Norris (Indianapolis, Ind.) and senior outfielder Austin Rieke (Fishers, Ind.) added two hits apiece.
MU’s win, increasing their current win streak to 15 games, moved them into the championship round Saturday, May 18. They will face either Marietta, Thomas More or Washington and Jefferson at 3:30 p.m.
NOTES: Senior first baseman Brad Murphy (Fort Wayne, Ind.), upped his sparkling on-base streak to 33 consecutive games behind a single and two walks. Kimm upped his string to 26 in a row, while Norris went to 23 straight. … Kimm’s night also moved his current hit string to 12 straight games. … The win over the Pioneers marked Espeset’s and the program’s first over the perennial NCAA Division III powers in five attempts.
TERRE HAUTE, IND. – Manchester University pushed its current win streak to 14 with a gritty victory over President’s Athletic Conference tournament and regular season champion Washington and Jefferson Thursday, May 16.
The No. 9-ranked D3Baseball.com and No. 12-ranked American Baseball Coaches Association Division III Spartans, improving to 37-5-1, battled back from an early 2-0 deficit against the Presidents (31-12) to claim a 4-2 win in the winner’s bracket of the 2013 NCAA Division III Mideast Regional at Art Nehf Field. Senior shortstop Corey Marchant (Fort Wayne, Ind.) led a five-hit offensive attack, going two-for-three with two runs scored.
After W&J posted single runs in the first and second innings, a bases loaded walk to senior left fielder Cody Schell (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and a run-scoring sacrifice fly by sophomore designated hitter Kyle Norris (Indianapolis, Ind.) tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the third. Two innings later, MU broke up the tie with back-to-back sacrifice flies from junior third baseman Jordan Nieman (Michigan City, Ind.) and sophomore second baseman Trevor Kimm (Anderson, Ind.) that scored senior first baseman Brad Murphy (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and Marchant who got into scoring position with nobody out after a walk, base hit and W&J error.
Senior pitcher Kyle Konarski (Elkhart, Ind.) battled through five-plus innings, stranding nine Presidents’ base runners, to gain his 10th victory of the season. He allowed just the two earned runs on six hits while striking out two. Senior Bryce Murphy (Ossian, Ind.), entering the game in the bottom of the sixth after the Presidents opened with back-to-back singles, worked out of the jam and scattered two hits over the final four innings to pick up his 11th save.
MU meets up with Ohio Athletic Conference power and two-time defending national champion Marietta College Friday, April 17, in a 4:30 p.m. winner’s bracket game. The Pioneers opened the regional tourney with an 11-1 win over Penn State University at Behrend and a 16-1 decision over Thomas More College of Ohio.
NOTES: The Friday clash between the top-seeded Spartans and second-seeded Pioneers marks the second straight regional tourney in which the two sides have met. Marietta picked up a pair of tight-knit victories a year ago en route to the tourney title. … A third inning single from Kimm increased his hitting streak to 11 games. … Brad Murphy, Kimm and Norris each stretched their impressive on-base streaks. Murphy, behind two walks and one hit by pitch, moved to 32 consecutive contests reaching safely, while Kimm, with a single, and Norris, with a second inning safety, upped their skeins to 25 and 22 straight games.
TERRE HAUTE, IND. – Manchester University received a strong balance of offense, pitching and defense to lead the way during day one of the 2013 NCAA Division III Mideast Regional Wednesday, May 15.
Coach Rick Espeset pointed to one big key in the Black and Gold’s 12-3 victory over Ohio Athletic Conference tournament champion Mount Union.
“To have (senior pitcher Justin) Scott pitch so well from the beginning really helped us,” he said. “He did a great job throwing strikes and allowing the defense to make plays behind him.”
Scott, who increased his season record to 9-1, fired seven innings of scoreless three-hit ball at the Purple Raiders (24-16). He also struck out three and didn’t surrender a walk.
“It feels good to have the confidence of the coaching staff in being able to throw the first game of the regional tournament for the second year in a row,” he said. “It was a team effort. I got a lot of run support from the offense, and the defense played well.”
Senior shortstop Corey Marchant (Fort Wayne, Ind.) turned in a big afternoon for MU, too. He blasted a two-run home run as part of a six-run seventh and drilled a two-run double in the fourth during a two-for-three, four-RBI, two-run scored day. He was also important on the defensive side, starting three double plays that allowed MU to work out of Mount Union offensive threats.
“It felt like the entire team was in rhythm today,” he said. “Getting out to a fast start played a big role in that.”
Senior outfielder Austin Rieke (Fishers, Ind.) finished with three hits, while senior outfielder Bryce Murphy (Ossian, Ind.), senior left fielder Cody Schell (Granger, Ind.) and freshman catcher Elliot Ford (Rome City, Ind.) each registered two-hit games. Murphy and Schell also added a pair of RBIs each.
MU (36-5-1), the tournament’s top seed, moves into a winner’s bracket game against fifth-seeded Washington and Jefferson Thursday, May 16. First pitch is 4:30 p.m. at Art Nehf Field on Rose-Hulman’s campus.
NOTES: The victory pushed the Spartans’ current win streak to 13 straight. It’s their second 10-or-more victory skein of the season. … Sophomore second baseman Trevor Kimm (Anderson, Ind.) pushed his hit streak to 10 games with a first inning RBI single. It’s the second time this year he’s had a double-digit hit string. … The trio of senior first baseman Brad Murphy (Fort Wayne, Ind.), Kimm and sophomore designated hitter Kyle Norris (Indianapolis, Ind.) upped their sparkling on-base streaks. Murphy has reached base in 31 straight games, while Kimm and Norris are at 24 and 21 successive contests reaching base. … Scott’s decision marked his ninth consecutive victory. … Rieke’s three-hit effort is part of a span of six games where his average has risen 76 points (.315-.391). He on a run of four consecutive outings in which he’s had multiple safeties.
NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – Looking back at three close-knit wins in three days, Manchester University head coach Rick Espeset pointed to a key reason for the Spartans gaining the program’s second successive Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament title Saturday, May 11.
“We have a group of guys that don’t let their emotions get too high or too low,” he said. “They keep a steady approach to the game. I think a big reason for that is because of our seniors. They’ve been through this, having been in past tournament championship situations.”
Holding a 12-5 lead in the top of the eighth, the Spartans were in the catbird seat. However, Franklin (24-20) didn’t back down. Senior catcher Jesse Wilson cracked a grand slam over the right field fence, cutting the deficit to 12-9. The Grizzlies also got a runner on in the ninth with nobody out after a leadoff single, but senior Bryce Murphy (Ossian, Ind.), as he has done throughout the season, worked around the threat, forcing a game-ending grounder to sophomore second baseman Trevor Kimm (Anderson, Ind.) that he flipped to senior shortstop Corey Marchant (Fort Wayne, Ind.) for the second out and then was whisked to senior first baseman Brad Murphy (Fort Wayne, Ind.) to conclude a double play and close the contest.
“(Winning both the conference championship and tournament championship) speaks to what these guys have been working towards all season,” Espeset said. “It continues to make a remarkable season even more special.”
The top-seeded Spartans (35-5-1) got out of the quickly en route to their 12-9 win over third-seeded Franklin College at Gratz Field. After an unearned run put the Grizzlies in front 1-0 in the first, MU answered with two in the first, courtesy of a moon shot two-run home run off the bat of junior third baseman Jordan Nieman (Michigan City, Ind.), and six in the second.
The second inning rally was produced around six hits off FC starter Taylor Glaze. Run-scoring singles from senior outfielders Austin Rieke (Fishers, Ind.) and Bryce Murphy, a two-run safety to left center from senior first baseman Brad Murphy and another prodigious blast from Nieman made the count 8-1. The visitors, as they did throughout the weekend, bounced back.
Franklin plated three quick runs in the third and one in the sixth to trim the margin to 8-5. MU’s offense interceded for a key rally-killing sixth of their own, as Kimm launched a two-run rocket that cleared the left field fence for a 10-5 score. An inning later, Marchant drove a single up the middle that scored two runs to make it 12-5, setting up the final two and a half innings.
Six Black and Gold players ended up with multiple-hit efforts. Nieman’s two home run, four-RBI output led the way, while Schell had three hits. Bryce Murphy, Rieke, Marchant, and Kimm each wound up with two-hit games. Junior starting pitcher Dylan Padgett (Kirklin, Ind.), who limited the hot-hitting FC lineup to just five runs over seven innings before Wilson’s eighth inning grand slam, took the win while striking out six. Bryce Murphy earned his 10th save, striking out two in one and a third innings of work.
MU now awaits its placing in the 2013 NCAA Division III national tournament. The selection show, available to view online at www.ncaa.com, is set for 10 p.m. Sunday, May 12.
NOTES: The Spartans placed three players on the all-tournament team. Marchant, Schell and Murphy represented the team.
NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – A key defensive plate in the ninth inning spurred top-seeded and No. 12-ranked D3Baseball.com and No. 15-ranked American Baseball Coaches Association Division III Manchester University past fourth-seeded Defiance College during the opening day of the 2013 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships Thursday, May 9.
Senior left fielder Cody Schell (Fort Wayne, Ind.), coming up throwing after Defiance sophomore shortstop Chris Donese singled with two outs, threw a perfect strike to freshman catcher Elliot Ford (Rome City, Ind.). Ford got in front of the plate just as DC freshman infielder Ryan Kohlhofer slid in, tagging him out on a bang-bang play to preserve the 7-6 win.
Schell’s defensive heroics made a winner out of senior pitcher Justin Scott (Fort Wayne, Ind.) who increased his record to 8-1. Scott struck out three over six innings. Fellow senior Bryce Murphy (Ossian, Ind.) was touched for just one run in three innings while striking out two to pick up his ninth save. DC junior pitcher Darin Waterman wound up with seven strikeouts in seven and two-thirds innings.
The host Spartans, moving to 33-5-1, and the Yellowjackets (20-15) went back and forth early. Defiance posted single scores in the second and third innings, behind a pair of RBI hits from freshman catcher Gary Levengood, for a 2-0 edge before the home side erupted for six in the bottom of the third. Senior center fielder Austin Rieke (Fishers, Ind.) spotlighted the rally with a three-run double.
DC remained close, answering with one in the fourth and two in the sixth, due to back-to-back run-scoring hits from Waterman and junior first baseman Darin Masopust, to make the count 6-5. MU scored an important insurance run in the bottom half of the sixth, as senior first baseman Brad Murphy (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and senior shortstop Corey Marchant (Fort Wayne, Ind.) both slammed triples. From that point, neither side scored again until the final frame, as DC rallied with three hits to cut the deficit to 7-6, setting up the frenetic finish.
MU’s offense had four players turn in multiple-hit contests. Sophomore designated hitter Kyle Norris (Indianapolis, Ind.) led the quartet with three safeties, while Rieke, Brad Murphy and Marchant each had two. Defiance’s 17-hit attack was led by Levengood with four hits and two RBIs.
Third-seeded Franklin College joined the top-seeded Black and Gold in the winner’s bracket, toppling second-seeded Anderson University 12-6. Junior outfielder Scott Windler drilled three hits and scored two runs, while senior first baseman Zach Oskowski added two hits and two runs scored to guide the Grizzlies (23-18).
After the two sides played to a 3-3 tie through five frames, Franklin blew the game open with five runs in the seventh and four more in the eighth, helped in part by four Raven errors. The late-innings rally helped FC make a winner out of junior pitcher Chris Hoppingarner who fired seven innings and struck out three.
Anderson, dropping to 21-20, received a big offensive effort from sophomore catcher Cole Hebeling. He went four-for-five with two runs scored and three RBIs.
The tournament is scheduled to resume at MU’s Gratz Field Friday, May 10. Manchester and Franklin meet in the winner’s bracket at 9:30 a.m., with an elimination game between Anderson and Defiance to follow at 12:30 p.m. The winner of the elimination contest takes on the loser of the winner’s bracket clash at 4 p.m.
DEFIANCE, OHIO – Behind a pair of hard-nosed pitching performances from sophomores Maureen Lund (Huntington, Ind.) and Ashlea Nash (Gas City, Ind.), Manchester University made history at the Defiance High School softball field Monday, April 29.
The Spartans’ 5-2, 6-4 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference wins over Defiance College helped MU clinch its first-ever HCAC title and the program’s first conference championship of any kind since 1992. Moving to 19-13 overall and ending conference play at 11-3, the Black and Gold also locked up the opportunity to host this weekend’s HCAC postseason tournament.
“Ashlea and Maureen did what they needed to do, and the defense behind them made some important plays,” Coach Tracy Cromer said. “The offense also came up and played its part when it needed to. Those things all added together for us to get the sweep.
“This conference championship is a reflection of the players we have,” she added. “They’ve worked hard and bought to what we’ve been trying to do.”
The host Yellowjackets made it anything but easy for their guests. Defiance plated single runs in the first and fourth frames of the opener, while starting pitcher Alli Rowland didn’t surrender a hit until freshman catcher Kalie Niezgodski (South Bend, Ind.) singled up the middle in the fifth. The Spartans finally broke through on Rowland an inning later, taking advantage of three DC errors to go along with an RBI single from sophomore shortstop Emily Willmann (Montpelier, Ind.) and a two-run single from sophomore outfielder Shannon Stephan (Granger, Ind.), for a five-run sixth.
Lund, who battled through leaving seven Yellowjacket baserunners left on during the first five innings, shut the door in the final two frames. She was aided by a key double play that junior third baseman Kylie Planck (Valparaiso, Ind.) caught off a line drive by Tori Plummer in the sixth. Improving to 11-4 overall, she struck out four en route to her 13th complete game.
Game two was just as nip-and-tuck.
MU broke up a scoreless tie in the third when Planck singled in Stephan who had reached on an error earlier. The Spartans added another run in the fourth off the bat of freshman second baseman Jessica Chorak (Hammond, Ind.) who singled home Willmann. DC cut the lead to 2-1 in their half of the fourth, but the Black and Gold answered with four in the fifth, highlighted by Stephan’s second two-run single of the afternoon. Defiance nicked the visitor’s pitching staff for three in the seventh, but Nash, closing out her eighth win of the year, picked up her fifth strikeout of the game with the tying run at the plate to ice the conference title.
“We’ve been fortunate to have so many different players step up and contribute during games this season,” Cromer said. “It was no different today. That’s been one of our strengths and one of the keys to our success.”
Manchester University closes the 2013 regular season Wednesday, May 1, when in-state rival DePauw visits Spartan Field for a 3:30 p.m. doubleheader. The 2013 HCAC tournament starts at MU Friday, May 3.
NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – No. 14-ranked D3Baseball.com and No. 15-ranked American Baseball Coaches Association Division III Manchester University got the bats out to gain a home Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference win Tuesday, April 9.
The Spartans, picking up their seventh consecutive overall and home victory, hammered Defiance College’s pitching staff to the tune of 19 runs and 22 hits as part of a 19-2 victory. Five players produced multiple-hit contests, led by senior outfielder Bryce Murphy (Ossian, Ind.) with four. Senior shortstop Corey Marchant (Fort Wayne, Ind.) added three as did sophomore second baseman Trevor Kimm (Anderson, Ind.), while junior catcher Rob Heritz (Granger, Ind.) and junior designated hitter Dan Maringer (Fort Wayne, Ind.) ended with two hits each.
MU’s offense got junior starting pitcher Temujin Sery (Fort Wayne, Ind.) off to a quick start. Junior third baseman Jordan Nieman (Michigan City, Ind.) hit a towering home run to left field, his fourth of the season, in the bottom of the first to put the home team up 2-0. After the visitors tied the game at 2-2 in the third, the Black and Gold broke the game open with three in their half of the frame and added six in the fourth. Marchant highlighted the six-run blitzkrieg with his second round-tripper of the season, a three-run shot to left.
Sery moved his record to 2-0 with eight innings of four-strikeout pitching. He didn’t surrender a walk and was touched for just the two runs on six hits.
Manchester University resumes its current home stand Friday and Saturday, April 12 and 13. Hanover College, trailing the Spartans by three games on the HCAC standings, comes to North Manchester for a single nine-inning game at 4:15 p.m. Friday and two nine-inning contests beginning at 12 p.m. Saturday.
NOTES: MU has reached the 20-win mark in each of the last five seasons. … Murphy’s four-hit performance increased his hitting streak to 10 games and on-base streak to 29 games. Marchant’s on-base string moved to 25. … Murphy, who climbed above .400 at the plate for the year (.404), is hitting .468 with 22 hits and five doubles during his hit string.