Manchester downs St. John Fisher 11-8 to move within one game of Regional title
MARIETTA, Ohio - The slipper still fits.
Manchester College's Cinderella run continued Friday afternoon with an 11-8 win over St. John Fisher to advance the Spartans to the Championship Round. Manchester will play Saturday a 4 p.m. against one of three teams: the top seed Marietta, the third seed Adrian or the fourth seeded St. John Fisher.
A seven-run 7th was the big inning the Spartans needed to clinch their spot in the Championship Round. After Austin Rieke led off with a walk both Bryce Murphy and Brad Murphy singled to load the bases with no outs. After a fielder's choice, sophomore Jordan Nieman delivered the big hit of the inning. Nieman drilled a double to right-center field to clear the bases and knot the game at 5 apiece.
"I was just looking for something to drive to the opposite field and at least get the runner from third home," Nieman said. Nieman thought that seeing pitches in previous at bats helped his team to rally in the 7th inning.
But the Spartans weren't done scoring in the frame. With two outs, Cody Schell singled in Nieman. Schell, moments later, stole second and was brought plateward on a Trevor Kimm single. Heritz then doubled to set up Rieke for a two-run double to cap of the seven-run explosion. The Spartans added a run in the 8th and another in the 9th to make the final margin.
Manchester scored in the top of the first on a bloop hit that just cleared the second basemen. The Cardinals answered back in the second inning when Brad Rush singled in Ben Bostick, who had led off the inning with a double.
SJFC put up a 4-spot in third inning. With the aid of some Manchester errors Sean Osterman and Matt Klock both picked up RBI's and gave the Cardinals a lead it would hold until the Spartans exploded in the 7th inning.
St. John Fisher did not go away quietly. The Cardinals scored three runs in the home half of the ninth but it wouldn't be enough to oust the streaking Spartans.
The win takes the Spartans to 28-19 on the year, but Manchester has won seven of their last eight games including a conference tournament championship. The loss drops the Cardinals to 31-11 on the season and deposits them in the loser's bracket against the winner of Marietta and Adrian, Saturday at noon.
Dylan Padgett (4-4) went 6 2/3 innings giving up five runs, three earned, on 11 hits, picking up the win. Padgett walked nobody and struck out two. Bryce Murphy came on in relief and threw 2 1/3 innings and allowed three runs on six hits, but still picked up the save. Murphy struck out one batter.
Offensively for Manchester Jordan Nieman went 3-for-5 with 4 RBI's and scored twice. Trevor Kimm had a 4-for-5 night. He drove in two runs and scored twice.