Manchester University coach Rick Espeset could see something in his team when they got on the bus for the 2013 NCAA Division III Mideast Regional Championships.
"There was just never any doubt in our guys eyes from the beginning of the week on," he said after the 2013 Spartans became the second team in program history to advance to the NCAA Division III College World Series.
"These seniors and the entire team have been working towards this," he added. "It was great to see this team get this championship against a fine Marietta program."
As has been the story throughout the season, the Black and Gold (39-5-1) had many individual heroes in their 8-5 championship game win. Four players turned in multiple hit games, led by senior outfielder/pitcher Bryce Murphy, Ossian, who ended with two hits, including the game-decided bases-loaded double to the left center field fence in the bottom of the fifth to highlight a four-run rally. Senior first baseman Brad Murphy, Fort Wayne, extending his remarkable on-base streak to 34 straight games, also added two hits and an RBI, while junior third baseman Jordan Nieman, Michigan City, went two-for-five with his 70th RBI of the year. Fellow infielder Trevor Kimm, a sophomore second baseman from Anderson, Ind., ended with two hits and two RBIs as well.
The 11-hit attack helped spark a tremendous pitching effort from junior Temujin Sery, Fort Wayne, and Bryce Murphy. Sery, in his fourth start of the year, limited the powerful Pioneer offense to the five runs while striking out five and only issuing one walk.
"I'm so glad the coaching staff had the faith in me to pitch in this type of game," he said. "It came down to throwing strikes to (freshman catcher Elliot) Ford today, just like the guys before me. This is an awesome feeling."
"TJ was awesome today," Espeset said. "He did exactly what we needed him to do."
After Sery's six-plus innings of work, the ball was turned over to the ever reliable Murphy in the seventh inning. He wriggled out of a two-on, two-out jam, with the help from an unassisted double play from Brad Murphy and then worked past a Marietta baserunner in the eighth and then worked a perfect ninth as senior center Austin Rieke, Fishers, hauled in the final out on the track.
"Words can't describe how this feels," the tournament Most Valuable Player said. "It truly is amazing right now. We have been working hard to get here."
Murphy ended the weekend with three saves, upping his season total to 14, with 10 and two-thirds shutout innings. He also hit .471 with four doubles, eight runs scored and five RBIs. He was joined on the all-tournament team by senior shortstop Corey Marchant, Fort Wayne, who finished with six hits, seven runs scored, two doubles, a home run and eight RBIs, and Kimm who had seven hits, two doubles and seven RBIs during the four games.
MU, on a 16-game win streak, advances to the 2013 NCAA Division III College World Series at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wisconsin. The Spartans open the tournament against UW-Whitewater Regional Champion UW-Stevens Point Friday, May 24, at 5:30 p.m.