By Bill Cross
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — The sun shone brightly and the stands were packed Saturday at Don Brandon Field as the Anderson University baseball team hosted a doubleheader against Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference rival Hanover. A night after knocking off the Panthers 12-7 in the opener of the three-game set, the Ravens swept Hanover 12-3 and 6-1 to hold on to second place in the conference and keep pressure on Manchester for the lead.
“It couldn’t be better,” Ravens coach David Pressley said. “We had a great turnout, some students were out here and it was a good atmosphere to sweep a really good team like Hanover.”
In Game 1, Ravens hurler Nolan Schaefer pitched into the eighth inning and the Ravens batted around in the second to score five runs and take control early.
Zack Hufferd got on with a leadoff walk in the second and advanced to second base on Jeremy Shelmadine’s single. Jordan Ball reached on a fielder’s choice, but Hufferd was forced out at third on the play. Ryan McPike came up and laced a double to right field to plate two runs. Andrew Eiler singled in a run, and Cole Heberling hit a two-run double to give Anderson the early cushion.
Anderson had a four-run fourth inning to seize full control as Jacob Craft smacked a two-run triple and Hufferd doubled in a run.
Heberling delivered again in the fifth with a two-run single, and Eiler singled in a run for a 12-0 Ravens lead.
Schaefer was dealing on the mound before Lane Hanzel relieved him with two outs and a runner at second with the Ravens leading 12-2 in the eighth inning. Schaefer surrendered an infield hit to Nolan Hall in the third and a double to Chapman in the sixth, but the Panthers never threatened until Brian Johns hit a solo homer in the seventh.
Schaefer gave up four hits, issued two walks and struck out six in the win.
“He is going all out every outing this year, and we felt confident behind him,” said Pressley. “He’s gotten ahead of guys and really commanded the baseball. He’s just been outstanding.”
The Ravens’ momentum continued in Game 2 as Blake Hall pitched seven strong innings and the Ravens scored four runs in the third to open a 5-0 lead.
Eiler drove in Hufferd with a single in the second to open the scoring, and the first four batters scored in the third as Anderson showed great balance from top to bottom in the order.
Shelmadine drove a double to center to score Craft, and Hufferd and chased starter Gino Chumas. Chip Hockenbury came in and sent down the next three batters in order to finish the threat.
Hockenbury did a solid job in relief, sending the Ravens down in order three times in the final five at-bats. Heberling hit a double in the seventh, and Craft knocked him in with a single to account for the only run scored off of Hockenbury.
But the damage had been done, and Hall was in control. He scattered six hits in seven innings, striking out five and issuing one walk.
“Hall and Dotson (Friday night’s starter) bounced back from probably the worst outings of their careers last weekend,” said Pressley. “To come out and get wins, we are really proud of them.”
Heberling led the hit parade for the Ravens, finishing with four combined hits and five total RBIs. The Ravens had several players with three hits, including Eiler who hit eighth in the order.
“It’s exactly what we want,” said Pressley. “Top to bottom, to have threats and to have guys stepping up when maybe another guy is not seeing the ball well has been big.”
Anderson now stands 22-11 overall and 15-7 in the conference. Manchester leads the conference with a 17-4 mark after sweeping Earlham on Saturday. The Ravens play a doubleheader at DePauw on Tuesday before finishing up with three at home against HCAC foe Earlham starting Friday. The Ravens have won eight of their last nine and are gaining valuable momentum for the HCAC tourney.
“We came out ranked first in the preseason, but we dropped a few so we’re trying to get back into the swing of things,” said Heberling, a former star at both Highland and Anderson High School. “Our pitching and fielding have been outstanding, and we are hitting the ball. If we have all three going in the conference tournament, we are going to be a force.”