NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – A battle of Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference rivals took an extra frame to decide Tuesday, April 16.
Manchester University, looking to further tighten its hold on the conference's top spot, was side-stepped by Anderson University 7-6 in 10 innings at Gratz Field. The loss, which wasn't determined until the lead was swapped twice and then tied once over the course of the final two innings, snapped a 10-game overall and home field win streak.
After junior third baseman Jordan Nieman (Michigan City, Ind.) drilled a two-strike single to center to give the home side a 5-4 lead going into the ninth, AU answered with two for a 6-5 advantage. Senior first baseman Brad Murphy (Fort Wayne, Ind.), with the Black and Gold down to its final out, laced a single to center to force a 6-6 tie. The visitors answered again with a run in the 10th, and, after Manchester University got a runner to third with two outs, forced a fly ball out to end the game.
The visiting Ravens (13-15 overall, 9-6 HCAC) jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, plating two runs in the first and two in the fifth. Freshman pitcher Marcus Page kept the Spartans (23-4-1 overall, 13-2 HCAC) off balance over the opening five innings, allowing just five hits. MU started its comeback in the sixth, as senior center fielder Austin Rieke (Fishers, Ind.) dropped a nifty bunt down the first base line to score a run, and senior pitcher Bryce Murphy (Ossian, Ind.) scored a run with a fielder's choice ground out. The Black and Gold kept the rally going in the 7th, as sophomore right fielder Kyle Norris (Indianapolis, Ind.) roped a single to center to chase two runs in and tie the score at 4-4, setting up the finish.
MU ended the game with 16 hits. The senior duo of shortstop Corey Marchant and left fielder Cody Schell (Granger, Ind.) each ended with three hits. Nieman, Norris and freshman catcher Aaron Wells (Cowan, Ind.) added two hits apiece, and Norris' two RBIs led the offense.
The Spartans continue a four-game week with a key weekend series at second-place Rose-Hulman Friday and Saturday, April 19 and 20. MU holds a four-game lead over the Fightin' Engineers going into the weekend. The two teams play a single nine-inning game at 7 p.m. Friday and a pair of nine-inning contests, starting at 12 p.m., Saturday.
NOTES: Nieman's RBI single in the eighth helped him hit the 50-mark for the season. … Bryce and Brad Murphy and Marchant resumed their impressive on-base streaks. Murphy moved his to 33 consecutive games, while Marchant went to 29 and Brad Murphy upped his string to 17. … Sophomore second baseman Trevor Kimm (Anderson, Ind.) tied Bryce Murphy for the second-longest hitting streak of the year, as he hit safely in his 10th straight game.