AUBURNDALE, Fla. – No shortage of offensive firepower, led by junior Spencer Coop (Lexington, Ky.) and sophomore Grant Larimore (LaGrange, Ky.), has lifted the Hanover baseball team to a 2-1 start through two days of action at the RussMatt Invitational.
RESULTS: The Panthers began the season Monday afternoon with a single game against Cabrini (Pa.). The Cavaliers (4-2) took the contest 16-7. Hanover bounced back Tuesday, defeating Milwaukee School of Engineering (Wis.) and Northern Vermont-Lyndon by scores of 12-1 (7 innings) and 8-6, respectively, giving the program its first two wins under first-year head coach Grant Bellak.
NOTEABLES: The tandem of Larimore and Coop have combined to hit .520 (13-25) over the first two days of play. Larimore leads HC with a .545 batting average thanks to a six-for-nine effort at the plate Tuesday. Coop has seven hits in 14 at-bats for a .500 average, as he paces the Panthers with seven RBI. Combined, Larimore and Coop have half of the team's RBI, 12, and one-third of the runs scored, nine, while also producing three extra-base hits each.
As a team, Hanover is batting .309 with a .342 on-base percentage. The Blue and Red have scored 26 runs for an average of nearly nine per game thus far. Hanover also has 13 extra-base hits, while conceding seven to its opponents.
GAME ONE RECAP – CABRINI
Despite three hits and three RBI from Coop, the Panthers left 12 runners on base and allowed back-to-back innings of five or more runs to fall to the Cavaliers, 16-7. Hanover left the bases loaded in the first and second frames, while also leaving two runners stranded in the eighth and ninth innings.
Hanover salvaged one run out of its early inning opportunities, as Coop drove in classmate Mark Walkenhorst (Fort Thomas, Ky.) with a single in the bottom of the second. Coop then drove in his second run in the fourth with a double and Larimore crossed home plate later in the frame on a passed ball, which gave HC a 3-2 lead.
Cabrini though, scored nine runs in the fifth and crossed home plate five additional times in the sixth to take a 16-3 advantage into the final three innings.
Sophomore Austin Crouse (Fishers, Ind.), along with freshmen Jake Schaefer (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Luke Hernandez (Lexington, Ky.) all recorded their first hits in the Blue and Red during the ninth. The rally resulted in two runs for the Panthers.
GAME TWO RECAP – MSOE
With the Raiders looking to ride momentum from a 10-1 win earlier in the day, the Panther pitching staff stifled MSOE to just one run on three hits. Larimore received the nod for the first time in 2019, going 6.0 innings, allowing three hits and one run. The sophomore struck out four batters and retired the final seven Raiders he faced. Classmate Justin Pope (Fishers, Ind.) entered in relief to strike out one batter in 1.0 inning of work.
Hanover's offense continued to find success in the opener on Day Two, as the team recorded 12 hits in the contest. To go along with his stellar performance on the mound, Larimore added three hits, three runs and two RBI at the plate. Senior Josh Meszaros (Loveland, Ohio) and sophomore Matt Vetor (Pendleton, Ind.) added two hits in the contest as well.
A three-run third was highlighted by a two-RBI double form Larimore, which scored Vetor and sophomore Zeke Porta (Louisville, Ky.), who singled and doubled to lead off the frame. Senior Chase Sizemore (Fishers, Ind.) then drove in Larimore with a double of his own.
Hanover tripled its game total in the fourth, scoring six times on five hits. Vetor and Coop each had RBI base hits, while Meszaros headlined the frame with a bases-clearing double. The senior later scored on a single by classmate Ty Stover (Galveston, Ind.).
Rounding out the scoring was another three-run inning, this time in the sixth. The Blue and Red took advantage of three walks and a MSOE error to capitalize on runs 10, 11 and 12.
GAME THREE RECAP – NVU-LYNDON
A back-and-forth affair was decided late as the Panthers scored two runs in the top of the eighth to take an 8-6 lead. Sophomore George Dant (Indianapolis, Ind.) took over on the mound in the bottom half of the frame and shutdown the Hornets over two innings of work to secure his first save of the season.
Two errors allowed HC base runners in the eighth and Porta would drive in one run with a base hit and Coop had the other on a squeeze bunt attempt. Sophomore Eli Copner (Zionsville, Ind.) enjoyed the longest outing of his brief collegiate career, going 7.0 innings, striking out a team season-high seven batters.
Back-to-back two out doubles from Coop and Larimore gave HC an early 1-0 lead in the third. The Hornets (1-2) though, would take a 4-1 lead through six innings.
Hanover responded in the seventh, as the first five batters to step to the plate reached safely. Coop and Larimore drove in two runs each in the frame, while Meszaros gave the Panthers a 6-4 lead with an RBI single through the left side.
NVU-Lyndon was able to tie the game at six-all in the bottom of the seventh. After Hanover's eighth-inning offense, Dant secured the win by rolling a 6-3 groundball double play in the bottom of the ninth.
UP NEXT: After a day off, the Panthers will return to action at 10 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 28, when they are set to square off with MSOE once again.
Contact: Tyler Jester