NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – A pair of Manchester University victories over visiting Mt. St. Joseph University Saturday, April 18, helped the Spartans add some more history to an already-impressive resume.
With a game one 8-4 victory over the Lions, head coach Rick Espeset became the 37th active coach in NCAA Division III to reach the 500-win mark. A five-time HCAC Coach of the Year and two-time American Baseball Coaches Association Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year, Espeset's record moved to 501-301-2 as the Spartans (17-11 overall, 10-8 HCAC) concluded the afternoon with a 12-4 decision at Gratz Field.
The sweep also helped the home team tighten up the league standings chart. Going into the beginning of the season series against Defiance College Tuesday and Wednesday, April 21 and 22, the two-time defending conference champions trail a first-place tie between Anderson University and Bluffton University by just a game and a half and stand only a game out of the top four.
Freshman Eric Knepper (Bremen, Ind.), playing the designated hitter in both ends of the twinbill, made the most of his opportunity. He slammed his first collegiate home run and added a triple for good measure as part of a five-for-six, four-runs scored, one-RBI afternoon. Senior outfielder/pitcher Justin Miller (Yorktown, Ind.) compiled an impressive stat line, too, earning the game two win on the mound, thanks in large part to a six-run seventh inning rally for the Black and Gold, and going four-for-six at the plate with three runs scored. Other top numbers came from the pitching duo of senior Sean Liedtky (Walkerton, Ind.) and freshman Deric Haynes (Goshen, Ind.). Liedkty earned his fifth win of the year, going eight and two thirds in the opener with five strikeouts, while Haynes kept MSJ (10-18, 5-13 HCAC) off balance in the nightcap, striking out five over six and a third innings.
MU's midweek set with Defiance begins Tuesday at DC's Craig A. Rutter Field and continues Wednesday at Gratz Field. Both games get underway at 4:15 p.m.
NOTES: Senior third baseman Jordan Nieman (Michigan City, Ind.) added a pair of games to his hitting and on-base streaks, pushing each to 30 … Sophomore first baseman Tailur Szarenski (Bluffton, Ind.) and senior outfielder Kyle Norris (Indianapolis, Ind.) moved their long on-base skeins to 31 (Szarenski) and 24 (Norris) … Manchester University's series streak versus MSJ increased to 16 in a row.