Baseball blanks Cabrini in Florida finale

Zach Chapman

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – The Hanover baseball team concluded its annual Florida Winter Break Trip Saturday morning with a 2-0 win over Cabrini (Pa.).

The Panthers finish their season-opening trip with a 4-2 record, marking the fifth time since 2010 the program has returned home above .500. The shutout was also just the third for the Hanover pitching staff in the past five seasons.

The Blue and Red received a quality start from junior Zach Chapman (Loveland, Ohio), as the southpaw worked around three hits and five walks by Cabrini (7-3) to blank the Cavaliers over six innings of work. Chapman worked out of jams in the first, second and fifth innings, and also retired the side in order in the fourth.

Hanover though, had just one hit through five innings of play, as Cabrini kept the Panthers with a zero in the scoring column past the midway point. After Chapman left a runner stranded on second in the top of the sixth, sophomore Zeke Porta (Louisville, Ky.) started a rally in the bottom of the frame with a single. Porta then stole second and later scored on a two-out double by senior Josh Meszaros (Loveland, Ohio) to give HC a 1-0 lead.

On the mound in relief in the seventh was sophomore Eli Copner (Zionsville, Ind.). Copner allowed just one hit over two innings of work, striking out four Cavaliers, including the side in the top of the eighth. The sophomore finishes the trip with 11 strikeouts in nine innings of work.

Another leadoff single started a Panther rally in the bottom of the eighth, as junior Spencer Coop (Lexington, Ky.) reached base for the second time in the contest. Coop then swiped second and third, while senior Chase Sizemore (Fishers, Ind.) reached via walk to put runners on the corners with one out. Meszaros took advantage of the opportunity and drove in his second run of the game on a safety squeeze.

Sophomore closer George Dant (Indianapolis, Ind.) entered to pitch in the ninth and worked around a leadoff single and a double to secure his second save of the season. With the tying runs in scoring position and only one out, Dant issued an infield pop out before striking out the final batter of the game.

Each side logged six hits in the contest, with senior Ty Stover (Galveston, Ind.) being the lone Panther with multiple hits. Cabrini left 12 runners on base while HC stranded just five. With his two RBI, Meszaros is now tied for the team- and conference-high with eight. Coop also finished the Florida trip with eight runs driven in.

Hanover's pitching staff finished the week strong, allowing just three runs over the final three games, which spanned 29 innings of play. As a result, the team now has a 3.50 earned run average, which is second-best in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference among those that have played multiple games.

The Panthers will now welcome Spalding (Ky.) for a 3:30 p.m. start Tuesday, March 5. The contest will be Hanover's home opener and kicks off a stretch of five consecutive games at K.T. Young Ballpark.

Contact: Tyler Jester