Panthers rally for league win at Bluffton

Hanover College’s baseball team roared back from a two-run deficit to defeat Bluffton University (Ohio), 9-4, to cap a three-game Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference series in Bluffton, Ohio.

Senior second baseman Zack Shultz (Greenwood, Ind.) posted his first collegiate five-hit game to fuel Hanover’s 13-hit effort at the plate. Shultz had five singles and scored a run.

Senior first baseman Matt Brooks (Goodlettsville, Tenn.) and sophomore centerfielder Chris Ares (Versailles, Ky.) each had two hits. Brooks was 2-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and one run-batted-in. Ares was 2-for-5 and scored a run.

Senior outfielder Kolton Chapman (Lynnville, Ind.) entered the game in the eighth inning. He doubled, reached on a wild pitch, scored twice and knocked in a pair of runs.

Senior Chip Hockenbury (Elizabeth, Ind.), making his first start in three years, scattered 11 hits and four runs in five and one-third innings.

Sophomore Nick Brunner (North Vernon, Ind.) picked up the win with three and two-thirds innings of no-hit, scoreless relief. Brunner, now 2-1 this season, issued two walks and fanned five.

Bluffton led 4-2 after four innings, but Hanover tied the score with a pair of runs in the fifth. The Panthers added a run in the eighth inning and four in the ninth to avoid a series sweep.

Brooks swatted a run-scoring double and later crossed the plate on a base hit by junior designated hitter Ryan Johns (Cincinnati, Ohio) to tie the game at 4-4 in the fifth inning.

Hanover grabbed the lead in the top of the eighth. Chapman reached first after a wild pitch on a strikeout. He moved to third on a Shultz single and scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of freshman third baseman Alec Dunn (Louisville, Ky.).

The Panthers used three hits and an error to pull away with a four-run ninth inning. Chapman keyed the burst with a bases-loaded, two-run double.

With the triumph, Hanover raised its mark to 8-12 overall and 4-6 in the Heartland Conference. Bluffton, meanwhile, slipped to 10-12 overall and 3-7 in the league.

Hanover at Bluffton (Ohio) statistics