Basbeball defeats Augustana and Capital to open season

Garett Zorb delivers pitch

AUBURNDALE, Fla. - The Hanover baseball team got its season off to a good start Sunday as the Panthers defeated Augustana (Ill.) 6-2 and Capital (Ohio) 4-1 on day one of the team's annual winter break trip to Florida.

It marks the second straight season Hanover has opened the season with wins in each of its first two games, and the fifth time in the last seven years the team has won it's season-opening game.

The Panthers wasted little time getting on the scoreboard in game one. With one out, seniors John Scheil (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Jack Shine (New Albany, Ind.) were hit by a pitch and walked to put runners on first and second. Juniors Ty Stover (Galveston, Ind.) and Tyler Fitch (Crestwood, Ky.) followed with an RBI single each for a 2-0 lead. Junior Josh Meszaros (Loveland, Ohio) made it a three-run first inning as he scored Stover on a ground out to put the Panthers ahead 3-0 early.

Augustana got one back in the top of the second and had a chance to get more, but junior pitcher Garett Zorb (Medina, Ohio) induced a bases-loaded, inning-ending double play to keep it 3-1. 

Hanover added to its lead in the fifth. Junior Chase Sizemore (Fishers, Ind.) and sophomore Spencer Coop (Lexington, Ky.) opened the inning with a pair of singles and moved to second and third on a Scheil sacrifice bunt. Shine delivered a two-run single and then scored himself when Stover followed with a double to right center to make it 6-1.

Augustana (2-1) had its chances to get back into the game. The Vikings stranded two runners in the seventh, two in the eighth, and after scoring its second run in the ninth, left the bases loaded to end the game. 

Zorb looked strong in his season debut. The third-year hurler went 6.2 innings and allowed only one unearned run on six hits. He walked two and struck out four to earn his first win of the season. 

Junior David Blanco (Fishers, Ind.) came in to close out the ninth and got a ground out to end the game to give him his first career save.

Coop, Shine, Stover and Fitch all finished the game with two hits apiece. Shine and Stover drove in two with Shine also scoring twice.

Game two was tight throughout. Like the opening game, the Panthers were able jump out to an early lead in the first inning. 

With two outs, Shine doubled down the left-field line. Stover then singled to center field to score Shine and make it a 1-0 game.

Capital (1-2) looked to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth. With runners on first and second and two outs, the Crusaders singled to left field, but freshman Grant Larimore (LaGrange, Ky.) made a perfect one-hop throw to Fitch to nail the runner at the plate and end the inning. 

Capital did tie the game in the seventh with a two-out RBI double down the left-field line, but that tie was short lived as Larimore hit a two-out single through the left side to score Shine and give Hanover a 2-1 lead after seven and a half innings of play. 

The Panthers added a pair of insurance runs in the ninth. Again, with two outs, Scheil singled and stole second. Shine drove in his third run of the day with a single to center.  Stover was then hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Fitch blooped a single to the outfield and Shine would come around to score for the final 4-1 tally.

Junior pitcher David Herrmann (Fishers, Ind.) tossed six scoreless innings in his first start of the season, but received a no decision. He allowed only five hits and walked three with four strikeouts. 

Freshman George Dant (Indianapolis, Ind.), in his first collegiate appearance, got the win in relief of Herrmann. Dant tossed an inning and a third and allowed one run on two hits.

Another freshman, Eli Copner (Zionsville, Ind.) earned his first collegiate save in his first game with 1.2 scoreless and hitless innings of relief.

Shine finished the game three for five with an RBI and three runs scored. 

After a day off, Hanover (2-0) will return to action Tuesday, Feb. 27 for a doubleheader against the Milwaukee School of Engineering (Wis.). First pitch is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. in Auburndale, Fla. with game two to start shortly after the end of game one. 

Contact: Mike Pritchard