LEXINGTON, KY. – Senior pitcher Taylor Kopplin and a resilient Manchester University team bounced back in a big way from three consecutive losses Saturday, April 28.
The Westport, Ind., native blanked host Transylvania University on only four hits while striking out six in a nightcap masterpiece at Marquard Field. He retired the first nine hitters he faced and didn’t allow a home baserunner to reach third base.
On the offensive end, a quintet of Spartans gave their upperclassman teammate plenty of room to work. Junior catcher Matt Pritz (LaPorte, Ind.); sophomore first baseman Isaiah Knight-Neraasen (Fort Wayne, Ind.); and sophomore designated hitter Joe Gallatin (Muncie, Ind.) each drove in runs with singles. Junior second baseman Christian Smith (Fortville, Ind.) sent in another score with a sacrifice fly, and freshman shortstop Michael Pinarski (Goshen, Ind.) forced in one more with a bases-loaded walk. Pinarski and Smith each wound up with two hits as did senior outfielder Eric Knepper (Bremen, Ind.), and senior third baseman Hunter Lane (Nappanee, Ind.) wound up with three safeties.
One of the more prominent anomalies of the afternoon was a pair of double plays that closed out 9-7 and 5-0 MU victories. Of the two, none was probably more significant for the 2018 regular and season than in the opener. Transylvania University loaded the bases with one out against senior relief pitcher Brandon Eck (Fort Wayne, Ind.) before a pitcher to catcher to first base play closed the door.
Five MU players efforted multiple-hit contests. Gallatin went two for five with two runs scored; junior outfielder Tyler LaFollette (Warsaw, Ind.) managed three hits and scored twice; Knepper added two safeties and a pair of RBI; Pritz’ resume featured two hits and two runs-batted-in; and senior outfielder Alec Trzeciak (Charlotte, Mich.) rounded up two hits, scored a run and drove in one.
Manchester University (18-19 overall, 8-8 HCAC) moved to fifth on the loop standings, in a virtual tie with Earlham College for fourth and only a half-game behind Rose-Hulman for third going into the final week of the regular season. The Spartans step out of conference to begin the span, taking on Taylor Unversity at Winterholter Field in Upland, Ind., Tuesday, May 1, at 6 p.m.