North Manchester, Ind. – Commencing a home series away from home, the Transylvania baseball team dug in its heels to come up with a Saturday afternoon split against the Manchester University Spartans at Gratz Field.
In a back-and-forth game one, Transylvania saw a 6-3 lead evaporate as the Spartans overpowered the Pioneers late to win 16-6. The Pioneers rebounded with a solid pitching performance from seniors Tom Banahan and Adam Boone to seal up a 6-4 win in the second game of the day.
Following the 1-1 Saturday, Transylvania moved to 13-18 overall, and 8-10 in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play. The Spartans moved to 14-16 overall, and 12-7 in conference play.
The series took place on the campus of Manchester University, after incoming storm patterns in the bluegrass forced the series, originally slated to begin Friday afternoon in Lexington, five hours north to the home of the Spartans. With the Pioneers as the designated home team, the Pioneers batted second on Saturday and will do so Sunday as well.
The first six innings of the three-game series between Transylvania and Manchester appeared to favor the Pioneers, as they successfully answered every Manchester attack.
The Spartans faced off against senior pitcher Tom Banahan in game one and found just one run against the ace over five innings. Manchester claimed a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning on a solo home run from Tyler LaFollette, but the Pioneers quickly evened up the game in the bottom half of the inning on a sacrifice fly RBI from sophomore outfielder Isaac Taylor.
The Pioneers took their first lead of the day in the bottom of the fifth inning on a two-run single from junior infielder Rex Rogers to score junior designated hitter Blake Hart and sophomore infielder Kyler Dugle.
Manchester became the team to tie the game up in the following inning as the Spartans got to freshman reliever Collin Johnson for two tying runs. But before the Spartans could blink, Hart blasted a three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth to reclaim the lead for Transy at 6-3.
The Spartans swung back soundly, scoring six runs each in the seventh and eighth inning to put the game almost instantly out of reach. Eight errors in the game from Transylvania were costly as six of those errors came in the seventh and eighth innings.
Despite the one-sided final margin, both teams gathered 10 hits each. Hart, Rogers, and freshmen infielders Cole Ratliff and Riley Willbur each tallied two hits apiece, with Hart's three RBIs leading the way.
The Pioneers put game one's uneven score out of mind, using collective veteran pitching to deny Manchester a repeat big-scoring performance, while manufacturing plenty of scoring opportunities themselves.
Senior pitcher Braden Johnson got the start on the mound for Transylvania in game two and worked seven innings to put the Pioneers in winning position.
For the first half of the game, Manchester looked to be in control, amassing a 4-0 lead after four innings. The Pioneers were plagued in the second and fifth innings where opportunities abounded, but each time left three men aboard.
In the sixth inning, trailing 4-0, the Pioneers' persistence was rewarded, as freshman infielder David McAnelly smacked a three-run homer to left field, cutting Manchester's lead to 4-3. The Pioneers completed the comeback when Dugle hit an RBI double later in the sixth to score Taylor and secure a 4-4 score.
Johnson came in for one more inning and held the order at bay to carry a tie game to the bottom of the seventh. The Pioneers took the lead and never looked back as Rogers delivered an RBI single to score senior pinch runner Will Adams for a 5-4 lead. Taylor made noise again later in the inning on an RBI single that scored Rogers, putting Transylvania ahead 6-4.
Adam Boone checked in for the final two innings of the game and made quick work of the Spartans, allowing only one baserunner in the eighth and ninth innings to record his fifth save of the season.
The Pioneers and Spartans will finish up their series on Sunday with a noon first pitch from Gratz Field.
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