Spartan Split – MU advances into HCAC day two

Spartan Split – MU advances into HCAC day two

FRANKLIN, IND. – A pair of underclassmen and another stellar bullpen effort from senior Brandon Eck (Fort Wayne, Ind.) aided Manchester University in gaining a 1-1 record over the first day of the 2018 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships Thursday, May 10.

Sophomore designated hitter Joe Gallatin (Muncie, Ind.), continuing a six-game hitting stretch in which he's pestering opposing pitching to the tune of a .421 batting average, singled twice and drove in a run. First baseman Isaiah Knight-Neraasen (Fort Wayne, Ind.) added a three-hit, three-run-scored effort as part of a five-for-eight day at the dish at Franklin College's John P. McDowell Field. With those two leading an eight-run, 10-hit offensive outburst, Coach Rick Espeset's team managed to topple fifth-seeded Bluffton University 8-5 in the tourney's first contest.

The road to that clinched the program's 10th consecutive 20-or-more win campaign was highlighted by a three-run eighth that broke up a 5-5 tie. A pair of Beaver errors plated Knight-Neraasen and junior outfielder Braxton Riley (Fort Wayne, Ind.), and senior outfielder Eric Knepper (Bremen, Ind.) tallied a run-scoring safety. On the other side of the equation, Eck continued a run of nine consecutive scoreless innings, shutting down BU's bats over the final one and two-thirds which included a pair of K's for his third save which supported fellow Class of 2018 pitcher Taylor Kopplin's (Westport, Ind.) sixth victory.

MU (20-21) proceeded to give top-seeded tourney host and highly-touted Franklin all it could handle on its home field later in the day. Espeset's side led 2-0, 4-2 and had the Grizzlies tied 6-6 before a three-run rally over the final three frames dropped the Black and Gold into a Friday, May 11, elimination contest due to a 9-6 defeat.

Junior outfielder Tyler LaFollette (Warsaw, Ind.) registered three hits; Gallatin came back with a home run, run scored and two RBI; and Knight-Neraasen collected two safeties and scored a run to top the visiting offense. The pitching trio of senior Stephen Pinarski (Goshen, Ind.); senior Garrett Phelps (Covington, Ind.) and Eck kept the juggernaut home offense in check throughout and finished with a combined seven strikeouts.

The Spartans resume action at the tournament Friday at 3:30 p.m. against the winner of an elimination match-up between Anderson University and BU.

MU resumes home stand
April 10, 2018 MU resumes home stand
Win streak goes to three
March 10, 2018 Win streak goes to three
2018 slate opens this weekend
February 28, 2018 2018 slate opens this weekend