Panthers sweep Defiance in key league twinbill

Hanover College’s baseball team swept a doubleheader from Defiance College (Ohio) to remain in the hunt for a slot in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference post-season tournament. The teams clashed Saturday, April 28, at the L.S. Ayres Athletic Complex.

Hanover allowed just five hits, but needed a run in the bottom of the final inning to post a 4-3 victory in the opener. The Panthers rallied from a seven-run deficit to win 10-8 in the second contest.

Junior centerfielder Kevin Sears (Noblesville, Ind.) hit a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh inning to deliver freshman shortstop Ryan Johns (Cincinnati, Ohio) with the game-winner in the first game.

Defiance eased ahead 2-0 with a pair of runs in the fourth inning.

Hanover answered with two runs on three hits in the bottom half of the frame to tie the contest at 2-2. Junior first baseman Ryan Grau (Cincinnati, Ohio) doubled to lead off the inning. Junior third baseman Trent McIninch (Greenwood, Ind.) followed with a run-scoring single and later scored on a base hit to right field by sophomore second baseman Zach Shultz (Greenwood, Ind.).

The Yellow Jackets surged ahead 3-2 with a run in the sixth, but the Panthers, again, countered in their half of the inning.

Sears led off the stanza with a double and eventually scored the equalizer on a sacrifice fly to right field by McIninch.

Sophomore pitcher Mitch Hunnicutt (Seymour, Ind.) allowed only two hits through the first five innings of the contest. He surrendered three hits in the sixth and seventh innings, before giving way to sophomore closer Chip Hockenbury (Elizabeth, Ind.) with one out and the score tied in the seventh.

Hockenbury, now 5-1 this season, earned the victory with two-thirds of an inning of hitless relief.

Hunnicutt walked one and had five strikeouts.

Sears collected three of Hanover’s 12 hits in the contest. Johns and sophomore catcher Kevin Daeger (Vernon, Ind.) had two hits apiece. McIninch had one hit and knocked in a pair of runs.

Hanover vs. Defiance (Ohio) game one statistics

Hanover exploded for nine runs in the fifth inning to rally for a 10-8 triumph in the second game.

Defiance scored three times in the second inning, added three more runs in the fourth and a pair of runs in the fifth to build an 8-1 advantage at the contest’s midpoint.

Hanover (21-14; 11-9 HCAC) sent 14 batters to the plate in the decisive fifth inning. The Panthers totaled six hits and four walks in the inning to help push the nine runs across the plate.

McIninch and junior leftfielder Cam Ginder (Huntertown, Ind.) keyed the outburst. McIninch hit a two-run double and Ginder swatted a bases-loaded triple in his second at-bat of the stanza.

Sophomore hurler A.J. Ehrlich (Crawfordsville, Ind.) recorded the win with five innings of work. Ehrlich (5-0) scattered seven hits and gave up eight runs (three earned). He walked one and had two strikeouts.

Junior reliever Rob Wohlschlaeger (Sheridan, Ind.) tossed three innings of scoreless relief and Hockenbury notched his seventh save with a hitless ninth.

Ginder was 4-for-4 at the plate with three runs-batted-in and two runs scored to lead Hanover’s offense, which generated 14 hits.

Sears had three hits, scored a run and knocked in a pair of runs. Daeger and sophomore rightfielder Kolton Chapman (Lynnville, Ind.) had two hits apiece.

Defiance fell to 11-23 overall and 4-15 in the Heartland Conference with the setbacks.

Hanover vs. Defiance (Ohio) game two statistics