Spartans Start World Series Play Friday

The Spartans, the 2013 Mideast Region champions, take on UW-Stevens Point at 5:30 p.m. in one of four first round games on Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. The remaining first day schedule has the University of Southern Maine taking on Millsaps at 11 a.m., Linfield facing Ithaca at 2:15 p.m., and Kean opposing Webster at 8:45 p.m.

                MU, ranked No. 9 by D3Baseball.com and No. 12 by the American Baseball Coaches Association, stands 39-5-1. They seek their first victory in Appleton, Wis., after winding up 0-2 at the 2004 CWS.

                SPARKLING NUMBERS: The 2013 team brings impressive statistics on their journey north. Manchester University is listed among the top 10 of nine team and 11 individual categories on the current NCAA Division III national statistics report for games played through May 19. Included in those rankings are national firsts in win-loss percentage (.878) and individual runs batted in and runs batted in per game (junior third baseman Jordan Nieman, Michigan City, Ind. – 70/1.56 pg). The Black and Gold is also second in doubles (118) and hit by pitches (91); third in scoring (averaging 8.9 runs per game) and individual base on balls (senior first baseman Brad Murphy, Fort Wayne, Ind. – 36) and individual saves (senior Bryce Murphy, Ossian, Ind. – 13); fourth in team on-base percentage (.429) and doubles per game (2.62) and individual runs per game (Bryce Murphy, 1.42); and fifth in total runs (401) and hits (555) and individual home runs (Nieman – 11) and total runs (Bryce Murphy – 64). …  MU is on a 16-game win streak. During that span, they are hitting .352 as a team and have a 2.90 staff earned run average. The outfield duo of senior Austin Rieke (Fishers, Ind.) and sophomore Kyle Norris (Indianapolis, Ind.) top the offense during the period at .451 and .400, respectively. Senior Justin Scott (Fort Wayne, Ind.) is at the front of the pitching class, over the last 16 games, with a 5-0 record and 23 strikeouts, while Bryce Murphy has been just as solid with two wins, six saves, 18 strikeouts and just three earned runs surrendered in 29 and two-thirds innings. Senior Kyle Konarski (Elkhart, Ind.) and junior Dylan Padgett (Kirklin, Ind.) also have four wins apiece in the span. … Other impressive statistical efforts belong to sophomore second baseman Trevor Kimm (Anderson, Ind.), who is harboring a 13-game hitting streak (third-longest this season behind Nieman and senior outfielder Cody Schell (Granger, Ind.) – 15 each and Norris – 14) and the trio of Brad Murphy (34), Kimm (27) and Norris (24) who each have on-base streaks of 20 games-or-more.

                POSTSEASON AWARDS: Manchester University placed six of its members on the ABCA’s All-Mideast Region squad, released earlier this week. The Spartans had senior Corey Marchant (Fort Wayne, Ind.), Nieman, Bryce Murphy and Konarski on the first team and Kimm and Scott on the third team. Nieman and Coach Rick Espeset received additional honors being named Player and Coach of the Year.

                MU was also well represented on the 2013 D3Baseball.com All-American and Mideast Region teams. Marchant picked up his second successive All-American honor, being named first team, while Nieman was second team. Bryce Murphy, also recognized for the second straight season, was placed on the honorable mention unit as a utility player. Those three (Marchant and Nieman – first team and Bryce Murphy – second team) joined Kimm (second team), Konarski (third team) and Scott (third team) with Espeset being named Coach of the Year for the all-region team.

                The Spartans put nine players on the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference honor teams. Bryce Murphy was named Player of the Year, while Konarski was Pitcher of the Year, and Espeset was Co-Coach of the Year with Defiance College’s Derek Woodley. First team honorees for MU were Kimm, Marchant, Nieman, Rieke, Scott and Padgett, while second team awards went to Brad Murphy and Schell. Norris picked up honorable mention accolades, and Brad Murphy was the team’s Sportsmanship honoree.

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