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Home sweep propels Spartans atop HCAC

NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – A pair of late-inning rallies helped send Manchester University to two key Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference wins Saturday, April 13.

Keeping their record at Spartan Field unblemished, MU answered a 5-1 deficit in game one with back-to-back four-run outbursts in the fifth and sixth to win 9-7 and came back from a 3-0 first inning disadvantage in game two with four runs in the fourth and two in the sixth to claim a 6-5 victory over visiting Transylvania University. The Spartans (15-9 overall, 7-3 HCAC) moved into first place on the conference standings by percentage points over second-place Bluffton University of Ohio.

MU's game one heroics were provided by several individuals. In the fifth, a two-run single from senior left fielder Kayla Yates (Delphi, Ind.) and a run-scoring double from junior first baseman Janikka Tillotson (Brownsburg, Ind.) tied the game at 5-5 and back-to-back RBI singles from freshman catcher MacKenzie Williams (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and sophomore shortstop Emily Willmann (Montpelier, Ind.) ahead of a two-run double to center field from freshman designated player Kaile Niezgodski (South Bend, Ind.) that overturned a 7-5 deficit to give the home team a 9-7 lead. Sophomore pitcher Maureen Lund (Huntington, Ind.) gained her league-leading ninth win of the year, going the distance with five strikeouts.

Sophomore starting pitcher Ashlea Nash (Gas City, Ind.) and junior relief pitcher Brittney Wetzel (Hamilton, Ind.) benefitted from the game two rally. Nash moved to 6-6 on the season with the win, going eight innings and surrendering only four hits, while Wetzel picked up her second save, stranding the potential tying run at third base. The two offenses combined for four round trippers, as Williams and sophomore right fielder Shannon Stephan (Granger, Ind.) both cracked home runs for the Spartans as part of two-hit games. Stephan's first home run of the year broke a 4-4 tie in the sixth.

The Black and Gold continue a four-game weekend by stepping out league play to travel to St. Mary's College of Indiana Sunday, April 14. First pitch is 1 p.m.

NOTES: Wetzel's game two save moved her into a first place tie on the conference statistical report. … MU's two home runs and six stolen bases in game two tied a season high. The Spartans, coming into the doubleheader ranked among the top 25 of NCAA Division III in stolen bases, didn't disappoint with eight over the course of the afternoon. … The Black and Gold's numbers at home have been impressive. They sport a 6-0 record and are hitting a sparkling .358 as a team at Spartan Field which includes out-scoring the opposition 43-21 and out-hitting them 57-28 which is highlighted by 19 extra base hits.