NORTH MANCHESTER, IN -- Manchester defeated Franklin to capture the 2013 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference championship on Saturday. The Spartans capped a three-game run through the tournament by defeating Franklin 12-9 at James Gratz Field in North Manchester.

With the victory, Manchester earned the HCAC automatic berth to the NCAA tournament for a consecutive season. The Spartans improved to 35-5-1 overall this season.

In Saturday’s championship victory against the Grizzlies, the Black and Gold offense exploded for 12 runs against the Franklin pitching staff. 

Junior third basemen Jordan Nieman finished the game 2-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI. Sophomore Trevor Kimm also blasted a home run and finished 2-for-5.

Senior Bryce Murphy finished the game on the mound for the Spartans, tossing 1.1 innings with two strikeouts to pick up his second save of the tournament.

Manchester got off to a quick start, scoring eight runs in the first two innings. The Spartans stretched the lead to 12-5 following the seventh inning. Franklin senior catcher Jesse Wilson blasted a grand slam in the eighth inning to bring the Grizzlies within three runs.

Manchester advanced to Saturday’s championship round by virtue of the winner’s bracket. The Black and Gold, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, topped Defiance 7-6 on Thursday and secured their spot in the championship game by defeating Franklin 8-7 in 10 innings on Friday.