Panthers edge Franklin at Victory Field

Sophomore centerfielder Chris Ayres (Versailles, Ky.) scored on a wild pitch in the ninth inning to lift Hanover College’s baseball squad to a 9-8 triumph against Franklin College at Victory Field in Indianapolis, Ind.

Hanover, which has won four games in a row, jumped out to an early lead and had to hold off two Franklin rallies in the late innings.

Junior designated hitter Ryan Johns (Cincinnati, Ohio) had three of the Panthers’ 12 hits, knocked in four runs and scored once. Senior rightfielder Kolton Chapman (Lynnville, Ind.) and freshman third baseman Alec Dunn (Louisville, Ky.) each had two hits and scored a run.

Senior right-hander Chip Hockenbury (Elizabeth, Ind.) recorded the victory after two innings of relief. Hockenbury (3-2), the last of four Hanover pitchers, allowed three hits and one earned run.

Ayres, who led off the top of the ninth inning with a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and swiped third. He scored the eventual game-winner on a bounding ball to the backstop.

Hanover, now 12-16 overall and 8-10 in the Heartland Conference, jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning.

The Panthers sent nine batters to the plate in the frame and used five hits and an infield error to score the four runs. Johns smacked a two-run triple to highlight the inning.

The Grizzlies cut the margin in half in the third inning with two runs on two hits, two walks and a hit batsman.

Hanover stretched the lead to 5-2 with a run in the fifth inning. Senior leftfielder D.C. Craig (Carrollton, Ky.) hit a two-out single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on an Ayres base hit.

Franklin (19-14; 10-9 HCAC) started its first rally in the bottom of the seventh. The Grizzlies scored three times on three hits, including a two-run triple, to tie the game at 5-5.

The Panthers countered with three runs in the top of the eighth. Junior first baseman Matt Brooks (Goodlettsville, Tenn.) earned a bases-loaded walk to nudge Hanover ahead 6-5. Johns followed with a two-run single to thrust the squad ahead, 8-5.

The Grizzlies, again, made a charge in the bottom half of the inning.

Franklin scored three times, using two walks, two hits, an infielder grounder and a timely run-down to push three runs across the plate to knot the game at 8-8.

After Ayres scored the go-ahead run for Hanover in the top of the ninth inning, Hockenbury notched two routine outs before the Grizzlies made one final assault.

Franklin used an infield error and a base hit to get the potential tying and winning runs on base. Chapman, however, tracked down a fly ball curving toward the rightfield line to end the threat.

Hanover vs. Franklin statistics