RICHMOND, Indiana – Freshman pitcher Kyle Gorman allowed just two earned runs in eight innings lifting the Earlham College baseball team to a berth in the HCAC Tournament championship round with an 8-2 victory over Manchester University at Randal R. Sadler Stadium on Friday.
"Last season we had to fight through the loser's bracket to get to the championship round, but this year, at our field, we have the ability to go 1-1 and win the conference tournament," head coach Steve Sakosits said. "Our team is excited, but we have work yet to do."
The Quakers (28-12), who lost in the HCAC Tournament championship round last season, will face Mount St. Joseph University at noon tomorrow (Saturday). Earlham will need to win one of a possible two games to clinch the HCAC Tournament title and the program's first berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Gorman remained perfect through the first four innings, retiring the first dozen Spartans who stepped up to bat. During that time, the Quakers gave their starting pitcher some runs of support as seniors Eric Elkus and Cody Krumlauf hit RBI-doubles in the first and fourth innings respectively. Earlham also plated a run on a sacrifice fly from freshman Danny Dopp and a groundout from senior Nate Lynch.
Trailing 4-0, Manchester's offense came alive in the fifth as the Spartans opened the inning with two singles and a triple that scored two runs. After a flyout and a walk, Manchester had the bases loaded with one out and trailing by two runs. Gorman then fanned Braxton Riley and got Tailur Szarenski to flyout to right field leaving the bases loaded.
"Kyle [Gorman] getting out of that jam was huge for us," said Sakosits. "We had just gone up 4-0, and wanted to put up another zero obviously, but we know Manchester is a good team. They put two runs up, but Kyle has been successful this season by being even keel. He didn't let the pressure of the situation affect his performance and got a strikeout with his breaking ball on a full count with the bases loaded."
Gorman's breaking ball was working all game long as the Cincinnati, Ohio, native tallied a career-high seven strikeouts with most coming courtesy of the off-speed pitch.
Gorman improved to 7-1 with the victory while fellow freshman Spencer Owen nailed down his third career save in the ninth. Taylor Kopplin took the loss for Manchester allowing six earned runs in 5.2 innings of work.
Earlham outhit Manchester 12-5 while also stealing two bases compared to none for the Spartans. Lynch finished 3-4 with two runs scored in the lead-off spot while Krumlauf and Baker also had two hits. Six different Quakers drove in one run.
Chad Shultz was the lone Spartan to record two hits.
Earlham's contest(s) with Mount St. Joseph to begin the HCAC Tournament championship round will begin at noon tomorrow (Saturday).