Panther offense explodes for 29 runs in road doubleheader at Manchester

Kevin Van Valkenburg

N. MANCHESTER, Ind. – After three straight appearances with three or fewer runs scored, the Hanover College baseball team exploded for 29 runs and 33 hits Tuesday afternoon in a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader at Manchester.

The Panthers (9-13, 1-5 HCAC) tallied a season-high 20 hits in Game One, as they earned a 19-5 victory. Manchester (8-17, 3-3 HCAC) took the night cap by a final count of 17-10.

Hanover hit .379 as a team during the twin bill. Leading the way was sophomore Grant Larimore (LaGrange, Ky.), who had six hits in 11 at-bats. Senior Tyler Fitch (Crestwood, Ky.) and junior Mark Walkenhorst (Fort Thomas, Ky.) were 5-for-9 and 5-for-10, respectively, driving in a combined 10 runs.

GAME ONE RECAP (W, 19-5)

Hanover jumped out to an early lead, scoring in each of the first three innings to capture a 13-0 advantage on the scoreboard. The Blue and Red scored five runs in the first, once in the second and seven additional times in the third.

Five straight hits in the first inning led to the offensive production. Fitch had one of his four RBI in the game and seven RBI on the day with a single. Senior Ty Stover (Galvetson, Ind.) and freshman Andrew Littlefield (Louisville, Ky.) each drove in a run in the first as well, while freshman Kevin Van Valkenburg (Georgetown, Ky.) plated two with a base hit of his own. Littlefield and Van Valkenburg each went 3-for-6 in the contest and drove in four runs apiece.

Fitch added his second RBI with another single in the top of the second. Highlighting the scoring in the third inning, which saw seven runs on four hits, was Littlefield's RBI triple. Van Valkenburg then drove his classmate in with a single in the next at-bat.

Home runs from Littlefield in the fifth and Walkenhorst in the sixth made it 15-3 in favor of HC. Walkenhorst now has four long balls this season, as the Blue and Red have nine home runs this spring, already two more than their season total in 2018.

The final four runs for HC then came in the top of the eighth. Sophomore Austin Crouse (Fishers, Ind.) highlighted the effort with a double to right field to plate one run. The Spartans scored twice in the eighth as well, making the final count 19-5.

Senior David Herrmann (Fishers, Ind.) started on the mound, allowing just one earned run, while scattering six hits in 5.1 innings of work. Herrmann also struck out five batters as he improved to 3-0 on the season.

GAME TWO RECAP (L, 17-10)

Hanover was first on the board again in Game Two, as Fitch drove in junior Spencer Coop (Lexington, Ky.) with a two-out single to right. Manchester though, scored in each of the first three frames to take a 9-3 lead. Second inning scoring from HC came on base hits by Larimore and freshman Jake Schaefer (Cincinnati, Ohio).

The Panthers were then held scoreless until the final two innings, which saw them score a combined seven runs. Doubles by Stover and Van Valkenburg helped produce three runs in the eighth, while extra-base hits by Walkenhorst and Fitch in the ninth headed a four-run effort.

The Spartans however, tacked on two runs in the sixth and six runs in the eighth to secure the doubleheader split at 17-10. Larimore finished the night cap 4-for-5 at the plate, with Fitch adding multiple hits in the contest as well.

UP NEXT: Conference play continues Saturday, April 13, with a home doubleheader against Anderson, which has a scheduled 1 p.m. first pitch.

Contact: Tyler Jester

jestert@hanover.edu