A busy stretch of six games in three days starts Manchester University's season Saturday, March 2, through Monday, March 4. The Black and Gold take on Penn St.-Harrisburg and Ursinus at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Manhattanville at 12 p.m. Sunday and Eastern and Catholic at 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. Monday.
Spartan Shorts: Coach Rick Espeset's Spartans, the 2013 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference preseason favorites, open their 2013 campaign in the Palmetto State. "We have 15 non-conference games," Espeset said. "Those opportunities are all about getting us ready for game 16." … The Black and Gold earned 11 ranking votes on D3Baseball.com's preseason top 25 and were placed among Collegiate Baseball News' "among top teams" list. … MU will look to a trio of seniors in Justin Scott (Fort Wayne, Ind.), Kyle Konarski (Elkhart, Ind.) and Bryce Murphy (Ossian, Ind.) and junior Dylan Padgett (Kirklin, Ind.) for pitching work early on the trip. Murphy and Scott each won eight games last season, while Konarski and Padgett picked up four wins apiece. The group accounted for each of the staff's 20 complete games and 218 of 270 strikeouts. Murphy earned first team all-HCAC and D3Baseball.com All-American honors last year and is a preseason D3Baseball.com All-American this season, while Scott was a second team all-league selection in 2012. Junior Rob Heritz (Granger, Ind.) handles the staff behind the plate. … Espeset pointed to senior Brad Murphy (Fort Wayne, Ind.) at first base; sophomore Trevor Kimm (Anderson, Ind.) at second base; senior Corey Marchant (Fort Wayne, Ind.) at shortstop; and junior Jordan Nieman (Michigan City, Ind.) at third base with senior Cody Schell (Granger, Ind.), senior Austin Rieke (Fishers, Ind.) and Bryce Murphy in the outfield as Saturday's starters. The starters are highlighted by Marchant who was an American Baseball Coaches Association and D3Baseball.com All-American and the Most Valuable Player of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference a year ago, hitting .380 with 14 home runs and 49 RBIs) and earned preseason All-American honors from D3Baseball.com prior to 2013. Bryce Murphy also brings back a solid bat after turning in a .325 average with eight doubles and 38 RBIs a season ago. Six returning position players hit .318 or better last year including Marchant, Bryce Murphy, Kimm (.376 with 15 doubles and 38 RBIs last season) and Nieman (.317 with 11 home runs). … "We're looking forward to getting outside and seeing how we react to game situations and being on a field, as you can't simulate certain things indoors," Espeset said. "We were able to accomplish as much as we could indoors."
In-State Series: MU and DePauw play home-and-home doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday, March 9 and 10.