Conference play set to open for baseball this weekend at Manchester

Outfielders celebrate

HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover College baseball team is set to open Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play to highlight its weekly slate.

SETTING THE SCENE: The Panthers' (8-7) HCAC slate begins with a doubleheader at Manchester, starting at noon, Saturday, March 30.

LAST WEEK RECAP: The Panthers posted a 2-2 record, earning splits with Sewanee (Tenn.) at home and Wilmington (Ohio) on the road. Hanover defeated the Tigers in midweek action 21-17, behind a 15-run fifth inning, marking the first 20-run game at home in exactly eight years. The Blue and Red then opened the doubleheader with the Quakers with a 6-3 triumph. Both losses last week came by a final count of 5-4. As a team, Hanover hit .325 with 11 extra-base hits, including five home runs.

HITTING FOR POWER: Junior Mark Walkenhorst (Fort Thomas, Ky.) hit three home runs last week, including two during the 15-run inning against Sewanee. Walkenhorst finished the week with a .500 average, which is where his season average currently stands. The junior ranks first in the HCAC and 21st nationally in batting this spring.

Sophomore Grant Larimore (LaGrange, Ky.) and freshman Andrew Littlefield (Louisville, Ky.) each added one home run last week. Larimore now has two long balls this season and is hitting .317 with a conference-high nine doubles. Littlefield batted .538 last week to raise his season average to .438, trailing only Walkenhorst in the conference race.

As a team, the Blue and Red have six everyday players with a batting average above .300. The Panthers are hitting .306 and averaging 7.1 runs scored per game, which rank second and third in the HCAC, respectively.

INFIELDERS IN THE LINEUP: A trio of infielders in seniors Ty Stover (Galveston, Ind.) and Tyler Fitch (Crestwood, Ky.), and junior Spencer Coop (Lexington, Ky.), have gotten off to strong starts at the plate in 2019. Coop is batting .400 and has a team-high 14 RBI to go along with 14 runs scored, seven doubles and five stolen bases. The junior has hit safely in 13-of-15 games and recently posted a nine-game hitting streak.

Stover has also reached via hit in 13 of the team's 15 games and currently has a team-best seven-game hit streak. The senior has a .362 average, nine RBI and a team-high 15 runs scored.

Behind the dish, Fitch has appeared in 13 games this season, posting a .316 batting average. He is coming off a 3-4 performance in the most recent outing at Wilmington.

SENIOR PITCHERS SHINING: Seniors David Herrmann (Fishers, Ind.) and Garett Zorb (Median, Ohio) entered the season as the projected top arms for the Panthers and have not disappointed. Herrmann has made three starts, producing a 2-0 record with a 0.89 earned run average. The senior's ERA ranks second in the HCAC and is currently 37th best in NCAA Division III. Herrmann is coming off a 7.0 inning start at Wilmington, scattering five hits and allowing two runs -- one earned -- in a victory. He also had 10 of his 19 season strikeouts against the Quakers.

Zorb made his first start of the season during the doubleheader at Wilmington. The senior went 7.0 innings, allowing six hits and one earned run in a no decision. In two appearances this spring, Zorb has a 3.00 ERA over 9.0 innings of work. He is coming off a junior campaign that saw him post a 1.98 ERA and a 5-1 record.

SCOUTING MANCHESTER: Manchester is off to a 5-13 start, but recently took three of four games in a series with Ohio Wesleyan. The Spartans have one common opponent with HC, Wabash, who they lost two in both meetings. Hanover went 1-2 in a road weekend series with the Little Giants. As a team, MU is averaging 5.9 runs per game and has a .590 ERA.

The Spartans have won 13 of the 22 meetings since 2011 against Hanover. The Panthers have struggled on the road in the series, going 2-10 over the last eight years and have dropped five straight away from K.T. Young Ballpark.

UP NEXT: The Panthers open up a seven-game home stand with five outings at K.T. Young Ballpark next week. Doubleheaders with HCAC rivals Franklin and Earlham headline the slate, with a single game against Centre (Ky.) sandwiched in between.

Contact: Tyler Jester