HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover College baseball team will host five games this week, including two each against the past two Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference champions, Franklin and Earlham.
SETTING THE SCENE: With last week's slate washed out due to weather, the Panthers' (8-7) HCAC slate begins with a doubleheader against Franklin at 1 p.m., Tuesday, April 2. Hanover also hosts a 4 p.m., non-conference contest with Centre (Ky.) Wednesday, April 3. The weekend features two conference doubleheaders, one at home Saturday, April 6, beginning at noon against Earlham, and then at noon, Sunday, April 7, at Manchester.
LAST TIME OUT: 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 during HC's last week of action, 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 12th nationally in batting this spring.
Sophomore Grant Larimore (LaGrange, Ky.) and freshman Andrew Littlefield (Louisville, Ky.) each added one home run. Larimore now has two long balls this season and is hitting .317 with a conference-high nine doubles. Littlefield batted .538 last time out 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 23rd 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 FRANKLIN: Franklin enters Tuesday with a 10-8 overall mark and is coming off two losses at Transylvania last weekend in its HCAC opener. The Grizzlies, losers in five of their last six, won the HCAC crown last spring and entered 2019 ranked No. 21 in D3baseball.com's national preseason poll. Franklin has a .290 batting average, scoring nearly eight runs per game. On the mound, the Grizzlies are allowing a .315 average and have a 6.31 ERA. Hanover has lost six straight to Franklin, including an 11-10, extra-inning contest last season.
SCOUTING CENTRE: Centre will travel to Hanover with a 16-9 record, including a 5-6 tally in the Southern Athletic Association. The Panthers faced fellow SAA institution Sewanee for two games earlier this season, earning a split The Colonels recently dropped two of three against the Tigers. Centre has a .277 batting average and are scoring 6.6 runs per game. The pitchers have a 3.49 ERA and are conceding a .263 average to their opponents. The Panthers and Colonels met last season in Danville, Ky., a 10-8 decision in favor of CC.
SCOUTING EARLHAM: Earlham is 8-11 (0-2 HCAC) and will travel to face Bluffton on Wednesday before making the trek to K.T. Young Ballpark this weekend. The Quakers won the 2017 HCAC championship, but have lost five straight outings this spring. As a team, EC has a .253 average and scoring 5.5 runs per contest. A 4.79 ERA is coupled with a .279 opponent batting average. The Quakers have taken eight straight against HC, including a 2-1, 11-inning contest in 2018.
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 are averaging 5.9 runs per game and have a 5.90 ERA. Manchester will face Anderson and Rose-Hulman twice, as well as NCAA Division I Ball State (Ind.) once before hosting HC this weekend.
The Spartans, who were supposed to open HCAC play against Hanover last weekend, have won 13 of the past 22 meetings since 2011. 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: A three-game week is scheduled to follow seven games in six days for Hanover. The Panthers travel to face Thomas More (Ky.) at 4 p.m., Wednesday, April 10, before hosting HCAC-rival Anderson for two games beginning at 1 p.m., Saturday, April 13.
Contact: Tyler Jester