Sears' walk-off keys twinbill split

Hanover College’s baseball team split a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader against Bluffton University (Ohio) to close its regular season. The twinbill was played Saturday, May 4, at the L.S. Ayres Athletic Complex.

Senior outfielder Kevin Sears (Noblesville, Ind.) punched a base hit up the middle to score the game-winning run as Hanover captured a 9-8 win in the first game. The Panthers had bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, but lost to Bluffton, 4-3, in the second contest.

In the opener, Hanover trailed 5-1 after six innings before rallying for the victory. The Panthers scored six times in the bottom of the seventh to claim a 7-5 lead. Bluffton answered with three runs in the eighth to climb ahead 8-7 and set up Sears’ heroics in the ninth.

Senior rightfielder Cam Ginder (Huntertown, Ind.) led off the ninth with a base hit and scored the tying run on a one-out single by sophomore catcher Nolan Hall (Knightstown, Ind.). Three batters later, Sears poked a bases-loaded single into centerfield to deliver Hall from third with the winning run.

Sears, Ginder and freshman designated hitter Chris Ares (Versailles, Ind.) had three hits apiece to lead Hanover’s 16-hit attack at the plate. Hall had a pair of hits, scored twice and knocked in two runs.

Junior reliever Chip Hockenbury (Elizabeth, Ind.) picked up the victory with one and two-thirds innings of relief. Hockenbury (1-2) gave up two hits and a run. He walked one and had a pair of strikeouts while facing eight hitters.

Senior righthander Rob Wohlschlaeger (Sheridan, Ind.) worked the first seven and one-third innings on the mound. Wohlschlaeger allowed seven runs – with only two earned – and 10 hits. He walked one and had a season-high four strikeouts.

Hanover vs. Bluffton (Ohio) game one statistics

Bluffton (21-18; 12-12 HCAC) scored four runs in the third inning and held off Hanover the rest of the way to record the 4-3 triumph in the second game.

The Panthers (16-22; 9-16 HCAC) surged ahead 2-0 in the second inning with a pair of runs on two hits and an error. The Beavers countered with four runs on four hits and an infield error in the top of the third.

Hanover pulled within 4-3 in the sixth after senior first baseman Ryan Grau (Cincinnati, Ohio) hit a one-out single, moved to second on an error and scored on a base hit by sophomore second baseman Matt Newman (Bloomington, Ind.).

The Panthers loaded the bases with one out in the ninth inning, but were unable to score the tying run after a strikeout and an infield grounder ended the threat.

Hanover collected 13 hits in the setback, but stranded 13 runners.

Grau tallied three hits and scored twice, while junior leftfielder Kolton Chapman (Lynnville, Ind.), sophomore shortstop Ryan Johns (Cincinnati, Ohio) and freshman catcher Daniel Campbell (North Vernon, Ind.) each had two hits.

Senior hurler Kyle Wentzel (Cincinnati, Ohio) started the season-finale on the hill for the Panthers. Wentzel (1-3) surrendered six hits and four runs in three and two-thirds innings.

Junior Mitch Hunnicutt (Seymour, Ind.) allowed four hits in five and one-third innings of scoreless relief.

Hanover vs. Bluffton (Ohio) game two statistics