North Manchester, Ind. - Hudson Chastain notched four hits as the Transylvania baseball team took the afternoon opener in a Sunday conference doubleheader against the Manchester University Spartans at Gratz Field.
Spurred by a big eighth inning, the Pioneers erased a late deficit to beat Manchester 7-3 in game one of their Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader before the Spartans bounced back to take game two 5-3.
The Pioneers' record moved to 8-8 in conference play and 15-21 overall; Manchester moved to 7-8 in conference play and 13-22 overall.
Chastain, Riley Willbur, and TJ Keck each delivered a pair of hits to power Transylvania's offense in the Sunday opener as the Pioneers went ahead 2-1 in the second inning. Wade Lopiccolo and Devyn Wilson-Cowan both got aboard before Keck drove a hit up the middle to score Lopiccolo for the first run of the day. Billy Edwards came through with a sacrifice fly RBI to centerfield to bring home Wilson-Cowan.
Manchester pulled back one run and took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth with a two-run inning before the newly-inserted Jared Leuthart induced the Manchester order into a double play to end the frame.
Leuthart would go the final 5.2 innings of the game, ringing up a career-high seven batters and walking just one over that span as the Spartans had no answers for the sophomore reliever.
The Pioneers mustered a ferocious comeback in the eighth inning with a five-run surge to overtake the Spartans: Blaine Major led off the inning with a walk and Riley Willbur converted a single in the following at-bat. Trey Medford loaded the bases on an infielding error before Chastain found his second hit of the game, an RBI single into left field to tie up the action at 3-all.
The next at-bat led to a frenzied play as Lopiccolo reached first on an error, allowing Medford and Willbur to come home while Chastain was retired at second. Keck came up with his second hit, a well-timed single into left field to drive in Wilson-Cowan for the final run of the inning and game. When the dust had settled, the Pioneers owned a 7-3 lead.
Manchester would produce three hits over the final two innings but ended up stranding three as Leuthart shut down the Spartan threat.
In game two, the lead see-sawed over the first four innings before scoring ceased and Manchester held on to earn a win from the Pioneers. Starter Collin Johnson went the first two innings for the Pioneers and yielded five hits and two earned runs before giving way to Luke Wilson, who went the final six innings and picked up the loss to drop to 2-3 on the year.
Manchester took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second on a pair of RBIs before the Pioneers responded in kind in the top of the third. Major again ignited a significant scoring rally for the Pioneers with a lead-off single before Willbur added a single to put two runners on. Transylvania took advantage of another fielding miscue by the Spartans with Medford up to bat as he reached first and Major scored to cut Manchester's lead to 2-1.
Chastain delivered his fourth hit of the day with a two-run single up the middle to bring home Medford and Willbur as the Pioneers went in front, 3-2.
In the bottom of the fourth, Manchester matched the Pioneers with their own three-run inning to secure a 5-3 lead. The Pioneers would only find three hits the rest of the way as both pitchers took over for their respective sides.
Chastain finished the day 4-for-8 between both games as his hit total increased to 62 on the year, tying Trey Simpson for third all-time on the Pioneer single-season hits list. He now stands three hits away from setting the new Transy hits record in a season, currently held by Thomas Tolliver with 64 in the 2009 campaign. The sophomore continues to lead the HCAC in hits with 62 and is second in batting average (.411 BA).
The Pioneers currently stand in fourth place in the HCAC standings and will continue to their pursuit of an HCAC Tournament berth as they look towards their final regular season home series on Saturday, May 4 against the Bluffton University Beavers. Transylvania will square off with Bluffton in a doubleheader home finale with a first pitch scheduled for 1:00 p.m. from Marquard Field.
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