Baseball's late-inning comeback falls short versus Thomas More, 4-3

Zeke Porta

HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover College baseball team's late inning rally fell just short in a 4-3 home loss to Thomas More (Ky.) Wednesday, March 13.

With the setback, the Panthers (5-3) win streak is snapped at three games. Thomas More, who has qualified for six of the last nine NCAA Division III National Tournaments, including last season, improves to 3-6 this spring.

The Saints jumped out to an early 2-0 advantage after picking up timely two-out hits in the first and second innings. Hanover was retired in order during the opening two frames, leaving the Blue and Red in a two-run deficit.

After freshman Andrew Littlefield (Louisville, Ky.) worked around two hits in the top of the third, the Panthers responded with their first run of the game in the bottom half. Sophomore Zeke Porta (Louisville, Ky.) doubled with one out in the third and scored on the next at-bat, a base hit to left field from junior Spencer Coop (Lexington, Ky.). Thomas More led 2-1 through three complete.

A quiet fourth inning followed before the Saints took advantage of two HC errors in the fifth, scoring twice, pushing their margin to the largest of the game, three runs, at 4-1.

Following Littlefield's exit, the bullpen pitched four innings of no-hit baseball. Sophomore Justin Pope (Fishers, Ind.) worked around two walks and two hit-by-pitches in the sixth and seventh, while junior Zach Chapman (Loveland, Ohio) and sophomore George Dant (Indianapolis, Ind.) pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth inning, respectively.

Responding to the three-run deficit, Hanover had the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth with no outs. Porta drove in a run with a walk, leaving the bases full. However, three consecutive strikeouts followed to keep the TMU lead at 4-2.

The Panthers tacked on another run in the seventh off a single from Coop. Freshman Charlie Burton (Columbus, Ind.) scored on the play and sophomore Matt Vetor (Pendleton, Ind.), who was standing on second, looked to tie the contest before being thrown out at home plate.

Sophomore Grant Larimore (LaGrange, Ky.) followed with a double to put runners on second and third with two outs, but another strikeout came next to end the threat. Overall, HC left five of its eight runners that were stranded in scoring position.

The Panthers would finish with more hits than the Saints, a 7-6 count. Coop was the lone Panther with multiple hits in the contest.

Hanover will look to bounce back this weekend with a scheduled three-game series at Wabash (Ind.). The first game is currently set for 1 p.m., Saturday, March 16.

Contact: Tyler Jester