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May 10, 2013

MU, Franklin move into championship round

NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – Another day at the 2013 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Baseball Championships and more drama for the fans in attendance at James Gratz Field Friday, May 10.

When the dust settled at the conclusion of the three contests, two of them had been decided by one run, making it three of the five overall games coming down to the last at-bat. Top-seeded Manchester University, improving to 34-5-1, and third-seeded Franklin College, going to 22-15, each won into the championship round, set for a 12 p.m. start Saturday, May 11.

The host and No, 12-ranked D3Baseball.com and No. 15-ranked American Baseball Coaches Association Division III Spartans upped their current win streak to 11 with another heart-stopper in the winner's bracket. The Grizzlies, utilizing an offense that pounded 10 hits off the Manchester University pitching staff, rallied back from 4-2, 6-4 and 7-4 deficits to force a 7-7 tie in the top of the ninth. Senior first baseman Zach Osowski played the biggest role, hammering a pair of home runs deep over the right field fence, including a two-run shot that tied the affair in the ninth.

After keeping FC off the scoreboard any further in the ninth and dancing around a one-out single in the 10th, the home side gave its crowd plenty to cheer about in the home half of the frame. Junior third baseman Jordan Niemann (Michigan City, Ind.) clouted a two-strike double to left field and then  advanced to third on a well-place sacrifice bunt from sophomore second baseman Trevor Kimm (Anderson, Ind.). After being issued back-to-back intentional walks, junior pinch hitter Dan Maringer (Fort Wayne, Ind.), taking the count to 2-2 against Franklin junior pitcher Taylor Glaze, lifted a deep fly ball that carried to the fence in right field to plate the winning score in an 8-7 final.

 MU's offense matched the opposition with 11 hits. Senior shortstop Corey Marchant (Fort Wayne, Ind.) drilled a double and cracked a two-run home run as part of a four-RBI outing, while senior right fielder/pitcher Bryce Murphy (Ossian, Ind.) and senior center fielder Austin Rieke (Fishers, Ind.) each added two hits and scored twice. Senior outfielder Cody Schell (Granger, Ind.) also lifted a home run out of Gratz Field. Ososwski's four hits and five RBIs led Franklin, while senior shortstop Nick Stoia and senior outfielder Jarrett Johnson both added two hits.

FC kept itself alive with a 13-6 victory over second-seeded Anderson in the day's final game. The Grizzlies used a nine-run rally over the seventh and eighth innings, similar to their recipe in the 12-6 victory over AU May 9. Five players finished with multiple-hit games with Osowski clouting his third home run as part of three hits and three RBIs. Senior catcher Jesse Wilson ended with three hits and three RBIs, too, and junior outfielder Scott Windler finished with three hits.

The offensive outburst supported a strong starting pitching effort from sophomore Seth Powers. Powers limited Anderson (22-21) to five earned runs over eight innings and struck out four. AU's offense was guided by sophomore outfielder Jeremy Shelmadine who homered as part of a two-hit, two-RBI game.

Anderson moved within one game of the championship round by holding off Defiance 5-4 in the first elimination game. Senior pitcher Dan Schmitz highlighted the win with 10 strikeouts and just one earned run surrendered in eight innings.

Defiance, despite closing the year at 20-16, made it tough on a higher seed for the second straight day. Trailing 5-3 in the ninth, the Yellowjackets loaded the bases with two outs and scored a run to close with one. However, Anderson senior relief pitcher Andrew Enderle came up with a strikeout to shut off the rally.

Sophomore catcher Cole Heberling and junior second baseman Austin Young both homered to lead the Ravens' offense. Defiance received two-hit games from junior outfielder Aaron Helland, junior designated hitter Patrick Masopust and freshman catcher Gary Levengood.