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May 17, 2013

Strong offensive attack keys win in top two seeds’ battle

TERRE HAUTE, IND. – Bryce Murphy is willing to do whatever it takes to help his team.

The senior outfielder/pitcher from Ossian, Ind., for the second successive night, took to the mound in the sixth inning and put down a tough opposing offense Friday, May 17, at the 2013 NCAA Division III Mideast Regional. His effort helped lift the Spartans (38-5-1) past two-time defending national champion Marietta 10-5 in the winner's bracket.

"I'm used to the role I've got (in relation to being called on in key pitching situations)," he said. "This is my senior year. Who knows if playing baseball will be in my future, so I'm going to make as much as I can out of these chances."

"We've had some great players in this program over my 17 years," Coach Rick Espeset said. "Bryce is among the ones who have played a great role in impacting this program."

With the home side Pioneers (31-13) threatening in the sixth with two on and one out and the Black and Gold nursing a 7-5 lead, Coach Rick Espeset turned to his veteran left hander. Murphy entered and put out the fire en route to working a line that consisted of three and two-thirds innings with two strikeouts and just two hits surrendered for his 12th save.

Murphy was also part of a strong offensive effort for the Spartans. Manchester University opened the game with three hits and a quick run scored and then tacked on five in the top of the third for a 6-0 advantage. Marietta did chip away, scoring two times each in the fourth and fifth innings, but MU responded with one in the seventh and two in the eighth for their 10-run total.

"The quick start was, obviously, important for us," Espeset said. "It gave us confidence. We knew, coming in, we were playing one of the historic programs in Division III,, so we had to take advantage of our opportunities."

Murphy's heroics didn't stop on the mound. He also drilled three doubles as part of a four-hit, three-run scored night. He was joined by fellow senior Corey Marchant (Fort Wayne, Ind.) who continued his hot bat at regionals with two key doubles that drove in four runs. Sophomore second baseman Trevor Kimm (Anderson, Ind.) also came up big at the plate with three hits, including a two-run double in the eighth that plated two important insurance runs, while sophomore designated player/outfielder Kyle Norris (Indianapolis, Ind.) and senior outfielder Austin Rieke (Fishers, Ind.) added two hits apiece.

MU's win, increasing their current win streak to 15 games, moved them into the championship round Saturday, May 18. They will face either Marietta, Thomas More or Washington and Jefferson at 3:30 p.m.

NOTES: Senior first baseman Brad Murphy (Fort Wayne, Ind.), upped his sparkling on-base streak to 33 consecutive games behind a single and two walks. Kimm upped his string to 26 in a row, while Norris went to 23 straight. … Kimm's night also moved his current hit string to 12 straight games. … The win over the Pioneers marked Espeset's and the program's first over the perennial NCAA Division III powers in five attempts.