Manchester University has the number four seed in hand as the 2018 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference baseball Championships begin Thursday, May 10.
Game details: The Spartans (19-20) face off against fifth-seeded Bluffton University (21-16) at 9:30 a.m. Franklin College's John P. McDowell Field is the host venue … The Spartans and Beavers split a nip-and-tuck twin bill at MU's Gratz Field in mid-April. Coach Rick Espeset's team plated nine runs over the fifth through seventh innings to rally for an 11-8 game one decision, while BU broke away from a one-run lead midway through the nightcap to win 6-2 … Live statistics and video are available via links at www.muspartans.com, the Internet home of Manchester University athletics.
Spartan Shorts: A victory would enable the Black and Gold to claim the season series as well as advance into a championship bracket contest against top-seed and league champion Franklin at 3:45 p.m. Thursday. A loss would send them to an elimination game scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday, May 11 … Reigning league Pitcher of the Week Stephen Pinarski played a key role in the Spartans earning one of the five tournament bids. The senior from Goshen, Ind., combined with fellow Class of 2018 hurler Brandon Eck (Fort Wayne, Ind.) to blank Earlham College on five hits in route to a 3-0 victory at Randal R. Sadler Field in Richmond, Ind., May 6. Pinarski K'ed 10, a new single-game personal best, which tied senior Taylor Kopplin (Westport, Ind.) for the most strikeouts in a game this season. The right-hander resumed an impressive theme over his last four appearances during which he has three victories, 23 strikeouts, and has surrendered only 10 earned runs over 23 innings of work. Eck earned his third save during the afternoon, something which comes quite naturally to the righty. In his three opportunities this season out of the bullpen, he's registered a save each time out and hasn't allowed a run and been touched for just one hit over two and a third frames … Eck is one of three MU pitchers listed among the conference's top 10 in saves. He's tied for fifth, while junior John Magers (Noblesville, Ind.) and senior Garrett Phelps (Covington, Ind.) are tied for ninth (two). Other Spartans players among the loop first 10 are sophomore infielder Nick Rush (Terre Haute, Ind.) (batting average - .371 – No. 8); Kopplin (T-1st – six) and Pinarski (T-9th – five) in pitching wins; and Kopplin (T-5th – 54) in strikeouts. Junior outfielder Tyler LaFollette (Warsaw, Ind.) is just outside the territory in batting average, as his .348 mark is 12th-best. He enters the tournament on a tear, having registered at least one hit in seven of his last eight games played.