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April 5, 2013

Late-inning rally leads MU to series-opening win

NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – Manchester University maintained its one-game lead on the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings with a close-knit, extra innings win over Earlham College Friday, April 5.

The Spartans, battling back from an 8-5 deficit after four-and-a-half innings, scored three in the home half of the fifth and then plated a run in the bottom of the 10th for a 9-8 win. No. 16 D3Baseball.com/No. 19 American Baseball Coaches Association Division III MU moved to 17-3-1 overall and 7-1 in league play with the win.

Senior pitcher/outfielder Bryce Murphy (Ossian, Ind.), as part of a three-hit, three-RBI outing, clouted a two-run single in the fifth tied the game at 8-8. Both teams had chances to break the tie down the stretch, as Earlham (6-16, 2-7 HCAC) left three on, and the Black and Gold stranded two over the same span to force the extra frame. After the visitors went down in order in the top half, three walks loaded the bases, and senior shortstop Corey Marchant (Fort Wayne, Ind.) floated a single down the right field line to chase home senior center fielder Austin Rieke (Fishers, Ind.) with the winning run.

Murphy, with a pair of two-baggers included, was joined by junior third baseman Jordan Nieman (Michigan City, Ind.) along multiple-hit lines. Nieman hammered four hits, including two doubles, and drove in his team-leading 35th run of the season. Rieke, Marchant, junior catcher Rob Heritz (Granger, Ind.), sophomore designated hitter/outfielder Kyle Norris (Indianapolis, Ind.) and sophomore second baseman Trevor Kimm (Anderson, Ind.) also added hits. Senior outfielder Cody Schell (Granger, Ind.) drove in two runs to join Marchant, Murphy and Nieman on the RBI list. Five stolen bases also played an important role with Rieke taking two and Kimm, Murphy and Schell picking up on each.

Murphy also benefitted from the Spartans' 12-hit attack on the pitching mound. Coming on in relief in the 8th inning, he struck out one and surrendered just one hit en route to his third win of the season. MU starter Dylan Padgett, a junior from Kirklin, Ind., worked through six innings with four strikeouts, while senior Caleb McAfee (Ossian, Ind.) pitched a scoreless seventh.

Manchester University continues its weekend set with Earlham Saturday, April 6. The doubleheader at Gratz Field is set for a 12 p.m. start.