Baseball drops HCAC pair at Bluffton

Hanover College’s baseball squad dropped the first two games of a regular-season-ending series against Bluffton University (Ohio). The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader was played Friday, May 4, in Bluffton, Ohio.

Bluffton jumped out to an early 3-0 lead and handled Hanover, 7-1, in the first game. The Panthers roared back from a 3-0 deficit in the nightcap, but eventually fell 5-4 in the nine-inning tilt.

In the opener, the Beavers tagged sophomore hurler Mitch Hunnicutt (Seymour, Ind.) for a single, two doubles and a triple to build the three-run, first-inning lead.

Bluffton added three more runs in the third inning to bump the cushion to 6-0. The Beavers chased Hunnicutt with two hits and another run in the bottom of the fourth as the advantage grew to 7-0.

Hanover scored its run in the top of the fifth.

Sophomore D.C. Craig (Carrollton, Ky.) hit a two-out, pinch-hit single. He scored when, two batters later, freshman shortstop Matt Newman (Bloomington, Ind.) added his own pinch-hit single.

Hunnicutt, now 4-4 this season, picked up the loss after surrendering eight hits and seven runs in three innings. He fanned two and issued a pair of walks.

Sophomore Tanner Cripe (Delphi, Ind.) and senior Ryne Stover (Galveston, Ind.) combined for three innings of one-hit, scoreless relief.

Sophomore outfielder Kolton Chapman (Lynnville, Ind.) had two hits for the Panthers, which totaled five in the game.

Hanover at Bluffton (Ohio) game one statistics

In the second game, Bluffton grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Hanover, however, chipped away with one run in the second and another in the third inning to pull within 3-2. The Panthers surged ahead 4-3 with two runs in the top of the fourth.

Sophomore catcher Kevin Daeger (Vernon, Ind.) led off the second frame with a walk. He eventually scored on a base hit from Newman to get Hanover on the scoreboard.

The Panthers pulled within 3-2 with a run in the third inning. Freshman designated hitter Matt Brooks (Goodlettsville, Tenn.) opened the stanza with a double. Two batters later, Brooks scored on Daeger’s misplayed grounder to the right side of the infield.

Hanover grabbed the lead with a pair of runs in the fourth. Chapman and sophomore second baseman Zach Shultz (Greenwood, Ind.) hit back-to-back, one-out singles. Chapman would score on a throwing error and Shultz was pushed across the plate on a base hit from Brooks.

Bluffton (19-20; 12-12 HCAC) countered with two runs on three hits in the bottom of the fourth to regain the lead. The Panthers put runners in scoring position in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings, but could not drive in an equalizing run.

Sophomore pitcher A.J. Ehrlich (Crawfordsville, Ind.) was dealt his first loss of the season after five and one-third innings on the hill. Ehrlich (5-1) allowed nine hits and five runs. He walked three and posted two strikeouts.

Brooks reached base four times to spark Hanover’s offense, which generated 10 hits in the loss. Brooks was 3-for-4, including a double, and also earned on a walk. He scored a run and had one run-batted-in.

Shultz and Chapman each had a pair of hits for the Panthers (21-17; 11-12 HCAC).

Hanover at Bluffton (Ohio) game two statistics