Hanover opens HCAC play with split against Manchester

Ty Stover swinging the bat

HANOVER, Ind. - Following a 12-day lay-off from game action, the Hanover baseball team opened its 2018 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference season with a doubleheader split with Manchester Saturday afternoon at K.T. Young Ballpark.

For the second consecutive year the Panthers opened conference play with a win defeating the Spartans 7-1 in the opening game before falling 14-5 in the night cap. With the split, Hanover moves to 4-12 overall and 1-1 in the HCAC, while Manchester is now 11-9 and 1-1 in the league. 

The Spartans jumped out to an 1-0 lead in the first inning and would maintain that advantage until the bottom of the third. Freshman Nick Ciuffetelli (Newburgh, Ind.) led off with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior Jack Shine (New Albany, Ind.). After a ground out, freshman Grant Larimore (LaGrange, Ky.) delivered a two-out single to left to score Ciuffetelli and tie the game at one apiece.

The Panthers added two more in the fourth. A lead-off walk started the inning again. Following a single and another walk to load the bases, sophomore Spencer Coop (Lexington, Ky.) drew an RBI walk. A second run then scored on a double play ball and Hanover led 3-1.

Juniors Sam Orem (Greenwood, Ind.) and Josh Meszaros (Loveland, Ohio) knocked in a run each in the fifth with a pair of run-scoring singles to push the lead to 5-1. 

The Panthers tacked on an unearned run in the sixth and scored another run in the seventh on an RBI single by junior Ty Stover (Galveston, Ind.) to give junior starting pitcher Garett Zorb (Medina, Ohio) more than enough run support.

Zorb went a career-best seven innings and allowed one run on only four hits while walking four and striking out six. In his final six innings of work, the third-year hurler allowed only one runner to reach third base to improve to 3-1 in five starts this spring.

Eight different players recorded at least one hit for the Panthers with Stover leading the way with a two hits in four at-bats. Ciuffetelli scored two of the team's seven runs.

Game two saw Hanover score first in the opening inning. With Ciuffetelli on second and two outs, Stover roped a double down the left field line to score the freshman catcher for a 1-0 lead.

Manchester tallied a run in the second and two more in the third to take a 4-1 lead, but an Orem sacrifice fly in the bottom cut the lead in half at 4-2. 

The Spartans then answered with runs in each of the next four innings, including five unearned runs in the seventh to pull away. 

The Panthers got an RBI triple from Shine and a run-scoring single by Orem in the seventh, and then got a run in the eighth on a Stover sacrifice fly, but it wasn't enough as Manchester would finish with the win for the doubleheader split.

Hanover's offense ended the game with 10 hits. Shine, Stover and Meszaros went two for four each with Stover driving in two runs. Orem also drove in two, while Ciuffetelli scored another pair of runs to score four total in the two games. 

Junior David Herrmann (Fishers, Ind.) took the loss on the mound for the Panthers. Herrmann gave up five earned runs over four innings with two walks and five strikeouts. 

The HCAC season will continue Tuesday, April 3 when Hanover makes the trip to Franklin, Ind. to play Franklin. The doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at John P. McDowell Field. 

Contact: Mike Pritchard