NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – Steady pitching and clutch offense helped propel Manchester University to a sweep in its 2018 home opener Thursday, March 22.
Senior Taylor Kopplin (Westport, Ind.) crafted his fifth career and second complete game effort of the season in game two against visiting Calvin College of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Dominating from the get-go in front of a happy crowd of just shy of 70 Black and Gold fans, he was nicked for only two hits and one earned run over six innings. Kopplin delivered 97 pitches, 62 of which were strikes, in the hour and a half masterpiece during which he struck out eight Knights.
His offense put up enough of an attack for a 2-1 win that moved his season record to 2-1. Junior outfielder Tyler LaFollette (Warsaw, Ind.) hammered a pitch into the right center field gap that plated a run in the fourth, while freshman shortstop Michael Pinarski (Goshen, Ind.) brought home freshman pinch hitter Joe Henschel (Huntertown, Ind.) with a ground out in the sixth to break a late innings' tie.
Fellow Class of 2018 member Stephen Pinarski joined his staff mate with a 2-1 record after the Spartans rallied with two tallies in the bottom of the eighth for a 4-3 game one decision. Pinarski relieved senior starter Brandon Eck (Fort Wayne, Ind.) who struck out four Calvin hitters while allowing one earned run on five hits over six innings. Coach Rick Espeset's offense was lifted by senior outfielder Eric Knepper (Bremen, Ind.) who launched a two-run home run over the right field fence in the second; senior pinch runner Alec Trezciak (Charlotte, Mich.) who scored on a wild pitch in the eighth and junior catcher Matt Pritz (LaPorte, Ind.) who ended the battle with a sharp single that eluded the Knights' middle infield and drove in LaFollette.
The Black and Gold (9-7) wrap up a hectic six-game week Friday, March 23. First pitch against Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference rival Anderson University in a non-conference doubleheader at AU's Brandon Field is 1 p.m.