MANCHESTER UNIVERSITY ATHLETIC RECAPS – Friday-Sunday, March 24-26

SOFTBALL

Spartans conclude sparkling spring break

FT. MYERS, FLA. – Manchester University laced 15 hits in support of junior Madisyn Walter’s third pitching victory to wrap up its 2017 Florida spring break games Friday, March 24.

The stars were many for Coach Josh Dzurick’s offense. Freshman first baseman Shakira Perez (Elkhart, Ind.) led the attack on the UW-Superior pitching staff with four singles and three runs scored. Sophomore shortstop Mandy Boggs (Frankfort, Ind.) added three hits in four at-bats to go with an RBI; senior outfielder; senior outfielder Emilee Liston (Cicero, Ind.) and sophomore third baseman Kate Skeens (Gas City, Ind.) drove in two runs each; and junior second baseman Laurren Ladwig ended a big week at the plate with two hits including a home run.

Walter, the benefactor of the eight runs and 15 safeties produced by the Black and Gold O, made it through the Yellowjackets’ line-up with three strikeouts and only two earned runs surrendered over four and two-thirds innings. Freshman hurler Tristyn Koon (Kokomo, Ind.) came out of the bullpen and locked down any further UW-Superior rallies over the final two and third, allowing only two hits to ensure the 8-2 decision.

Manchester University, winners of seven of nine contests on its southern sojourn, looks to continue its recent momentum Monday, March 27. They travel to St. Mary’s College of Indiana for a 3:30 p.m. doubleheader that begins a scheduled set of six contests in six days.

BASEBALL

Saturday

Manchester University picks up key league win

NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – What a difference a day makes.

Fans arriving at Gratz Field on Manchester University’s campus probably expected the scoreboard to show more fireworks after a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference opening weekend doubleheader Friday, March 24, produced 51 runs and 60 hits of which 17 went for extra bases between the host Spartans and Mt. St. Joseph University. However, the series finale between the Black and Gold and Lions was about as different as the Indiana weather from one day to the next.

The two pitching staffs knuckled down and went on a heart-stopping ride in just over two hours. Home starter Corey Ferguson (Fort Wayne, Ind.) kept a visiting offense that was hitting at a remarkable .332 pace coming in to just one earned run on four hits over his first six innings, while MSJ’s Paul Spaulding was touched for three in the first but then cut the Spartans down to just one hit over the next three innings. Manchester University managed to knock him from the contest with two in the fifth and one in the sixth for a 6-2 advantage, but, much as they did in route to sweeping Friday’s two contests, the Lions’ offense was resilient, as designated hitter Nathan Hunter got a hold of an offering and deposited it into the shrubs beyond the center field fence to close the gap to 6-5 in the 7th.

At that point, the bullpens took over. Mount St. Joseph allowed just three hits over the final two and third innings they worked, while junior Stephen Pinarski (Goshen, Ind.) has baserunners on against him throughout his two and third innings and danced around each potential landmine behind three strikeouts and his defense to aid the Spartans in a 6-5 victory. In the top of the seventh, with runners on first and second and two outs, he induced a fielder’s choice ground out. Over his first full inning, Pinarski worked around a one-out single with two strikeouts and then, in the 9th, MSJ put runners on first and second with one out, but the junior dug down and got a big strikeout and slow roller to third that freshman Brandin Frazier (Wabash, Ind.) picked up and beat the visiting runner to the bag by an eyelash to preserve the win.

On the offensive end, senior center fielder Chad Schultz (Fair Oaks, Ind.) closed out an amazing week going three for four with two runs scored and an RBI to top the charts. Junior left fielder Eric Knepper (Bremen, Ind.) delivered a hit and two RBI, and sophomore right fielder Tyler La Follette (Warsaw, Ind.) concluded a big afternoon for his and his two outfield mates by singling and driving in a run.

Coach Rick Espeset’s crew continues conference play Tuesday, March 28 with a short eastern trek to Defiance College. First pitch for a pair of nine-inning games is 1 p.m.

Friday

MSJ rallies foil Black and Gold in HCAC opener

NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – A heaping helping of offense highlighted a wild set of Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference match-ups at Gratz Field Friday, March 24.

The host Manchester University Spartans bashed five home runs and three doubles out of a combined 20 hits to help chase 20 runs across the home dish of their friendly confines. However, in each case, visiting Mt. St. Joseph University kept its strong start to the season intact rallying with two runs in the top of the eighth to hang on for a crazy 18-17 game one victory and then busting open the nightcap with 12 runs in the top of the eighth in route to a 13-3 final.

Despite dipping to 3-10 overall and 0-2 in the league, the numbers were impressive for Coach Rick Espeset’s team at the plate especially in the case of senior outfielder Chad Schultz (Fair Oaks, Ind.) and freshman catcher Joe Gallatin (Muncie, Ind.). Schultz, continuing a monster week in which he’s sent five baseballs over fences at three different fields, went six-of-nine with three home runs, six runs scored, a double and three RBI as part of a stratospheric .667 batting average and 1.778 slugging percentage. Gallatin turned heads, too, with eight RBI in game one to add to an afternoon/early evening in which he finished with two home runs, a .500 average and 1.375 slugging percentage.

The Spartans look to salvage the final game of the conference set Saturday, March 25. First pitch is 12 p.m.

MEN’S GOLF

Labedz paces Spartans

NORTH BEND, OHIO – Manchester University completed weekend two of its 2017 spring campaign with a 798 total over 36 holes at Mt. St. Joseph University’s Spring Invitational Saturday and Sunday, March 25 and 26.

Sophomore Connor Labedz (Aurora, Ill.) entered the clubhouse as the low individual scorer for the Black and Gold, firing off twin rounds of 87 for a 174 which was good for a spot in the top 60 (T-59). Junior Jacob Hopkins (Kokomo, Ind.) and senior Andrew Topp (Monticello, Ind.) were next in line for Coach Tara Boone’s team, as Hopkins wound up at 194, and Topp concluded the meet at 197.

The Spartans, getting a look at the home of the first two rounds of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship this past weekend, get an opportunity to see the venue for the final two rounds Saturday and Sunday, April 1 and 2. They’re among the tournament roster at Rose-Hulman’s Spring Invitational in Terre Haute, Ind.

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