January 22, 2013

Manchester University Chosen as Preseason HCAC Baseball Favorite

GREENWOOD, IN – The Manchester University baseball team has been selected as the favorite to claim the 2013 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference baseball championship.  The Spartans received 94 total points and seven first place votes in the annual HCAC Preseason Coaches' Poll.

The poll collects votes from all ten head coaches in the HCAC.  Franklin College received the second most votes in the poll and finished with 85 total points and one first place vote.  Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology finished third in the poll with 76 points and one first place vote and was followed by Anderson University which claimed 75 points and the final first place vote.  Hanover College (55 points), Transylvania University (54), Bluffton University (39), Earlham College (30), College of Mount St. Joseph (22), and Defiance College (20) rounded out the poll.

Manchester will be looking for its fourth HCAC baseball title as the Spartans enter the 2013 season.  The black and gold will be striving for the school's fourth straight HCAC Tournament appearance this spring.  Manchester finished fourth during the 2012 season with a 14-11 conference mark, finishing four and a half games behind conference champion Rose-Hulman.  Manchester was 28-21 overall and won the HCAC tournament with a 5-0 win over Anderson.

The Spartans return three All-HCAC first-team members from last season's team, including the conference's Most Valuable Player.  Senior shortstop Corey Marchant (Ft. Wayne, Ind./Dwenger) led the squad at the plate last spring as a junior, batting .431 (44-for-102) in conference play with 30 runs, 33 RBI, four doubles, one triple, and nine home runs.  Junior third baseman Jordan Nieman (Michigan City, Ind./H.S.) and senior Bryce Murphy (Ossian, Ind./Norwell) also earned first-team honors.  Nieman led the team with 18 doubles and 51 RBI, while Murphy hit .325 with 38 RBI.

On the mound, Manchester will be led by All-HCAC selections Bryce Murphy and Justin Scott (Ft. Wayne, Ind./Snider).  Murphy was 8-3 on the hill last year with a 3.79 earned run average.  Scott led the rotation with 105.2 innings pitched with 60 strikeouts. 

Franklin will be looking for the school's first baseball title since 2009 this spring.  The Grizzlies finished last season 18-7 in league play, finishing a half game behind Rose in the standings.  FC went 1-2 in the HCAC tournament last spring, falling to Anderson 5-1 in an elimination game. 

Two All-HCAC first-team selections return to lead the Grizzlies lineup this spring. Senior catcher Jesse Wilson (Seymour, Ind./H.S.) returns after leading the Grizzlies at the plate last season.  Wilson hit .380 with 29 runs scored, 10 doubles, two home runs, and 45 RBI.  Junior outfielder Scott Windler (Lafayette, Ind./Central Catholic) hit .355 with 40 runs scored, six doubles, three triples, and 31 RBI a year ago. 

Rose-Hulman is predicted to finish third and make a strong push for a second consecutive HCAC title.  The Engineers won the conference with an 18-6  league record, finishing the season 27-14 overall.  Rose returns three All-HCAC first-team members from last season's title team. Junior second baseman Andrew Benitez (Mililani, Hawaii/H.S.), senior third baseman Bobby Newman (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg), and sophomore pitcher Ben Menich (Mt. Prospect, Ill./Prospect) all return for a run at a league title. Benitez scored 31 runs with 28 RBI last fall, while Newman scored 33 runs with 11 doubles and 26 RBI.  Menich led the Rose rotation with a 6-1 record, posting a 2.98 earned run average.

The 2013 baseball season opens on February 22.  The HCAC portion of the schedule will begin on March 22 with the HCAC Tournament slated for May 9-11.

Manchester University Head Coach Rick Espeset

2013 HCAC Baseball Coaches Preseason Poll

Team Points
1. Manchester 94 (7)
2. Franklin 85 (1)
3. Rose-Hulman 76 (1)
4. Anderson 75 (1)
5. Hanover 55
6. Transylvania 54
7. Bluffton 39
8. Earlham 30
9. Mount St. Joseph 22
10. Defiance 20

2013 Baseball Players to Watch

Anderson:  Dan Schmitz – P (Sr., Chicago, Ill./Wheaton Academy), Tyler Watson – P (Sr., Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North), Andrew Enderle – P (Sr., Huron, Ohio/Norwalk), Cole Heberling – C (So., Anderson, Ind./H.S.), Austin Young – 2B (So., Southport, Ind./H.S.)

Bluffton:  Kyle Niermann – OF (Sr., Napoleon, Ohio/H.S.), Miles Richardson – OF/P (Sr., Granville, Ohio/Newark Catholic), Tim Webb – C (Jr., Delaware, Ohio/Worthington Christian), Ben Roeschley – P (Jr., Graymont, Ill./Flanagan)

Defiance:  Darin Waterman – P (Jr., Celina, Ohio/H.S.), Brad Kremer – IF (Jr., St. Henry, Ohio/H.S.), Aaron Helland – OF (Jr., Defiance, Ohio/H.S.)

Earlham:  Ted Williams – SS (Jr., Harper Woods, Mich./Grosse Pointe North), Ryan Hayes – DH (Jr., New Lebanon, Ohio/Dixie), Sam Ward – OF (Sr., Bay Village, Ohio/Bay), Matt Brankle – P (So., Kokomo, Ind./Taylor)

Franklin:  Nick Stoia – SS (Sr., Camby, Ind./Decatur Central), Scott Windler – OF (Jr., Lafayette, Ind./Central Catholic), Jesse Wilson – C (Sr., Seymour, Ind./H.S.), Jarrett Johnson – OF (Sr., Indianapolis, Ind./Beech Grove)

Hanover:  Cam Ginder – OF (Sr., Ft. Wayne, Ind./Carroll), Kevin Sears – OF (Sr., Noblesville, Ind./H.S.), Mitch Hunnicutt – P (Jr., Seymour, Ind./H.S.), Ryan Johns – SS (So., Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle), Chip Hockenbury – P (Jr., Elizabeth, Ind./South Central)

Manchester:  Bryce Murphy – P/OF (Sr., Ossian, Ind./Norwell), Brad Murphy – Util. (Sr., Ft. Wayne, Ind./Carroll), Corey Marchant – SS (Sr., Ft. Wayne, Ind./Dwenger), Justin Scott – P (Sr., Ft. Wayne, Ind./Snider), Jordan Nieman – 3B (Jr., Michigan City, Ind./H.S.)

Mount St. Joseph:  Drew Ernst – P (Sr., Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder), Justin Shelton – 3B (Sr., Cincinnati, Ohio/Anderson), Collin Shaw – P (Jr., West Chester, Ohio/Lakota West), Brandon Polking – P (So., Cincinnati, Ohio/ St. Xavier)

Rose-Hulman:  Bobby Newman – 3B (Sr., Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg), Matt Turk – C/1B (Sr., Addison, Ill./Trail), Ben Menich – P (So., Mt. Prospect, Ill./Prospect), Hank Akard – OF/P (Jr., Indianapolis, Ind./Ben Davis), Andrew Benitez – 2B (Jr., Mililani, Hawaii/H.S.)

Transylvania:  Zach Bynum – OF (Jr., Louisville, Ky./Male), Sam Liggett – C (Jr., Ft. Thomas, Ky./Highlands), Jamie King – P (So., Louisville, Ky./Ballard)