The Rams (9-12) lost a heart-breaker Wednesday afternoon at home to the Raiders (7-11-1) of Shippensburg University. The Raiders came out on top with a 7-6 road victory.
Starting out the game strong, the Rams built an early 4-0 lead through two innings of play. After a solo-shot homerun by senior outfielder Ron Farley in the first inning, the Rams would go on to score three runs in the second inning.
Freshman outfielder Brenton Doyle and sophomore infielder Brian McCourt scored a pair of unearned runs in the second inning thanks to an error by the Raiders’ second baseman. Junior infielder/catcher Dalton Haymaker reached first base on the play.
Already up 3-0, Haymaker was able to round the bases and head home to make the lead 4-0 when the Raiders’ center fielder committed yet another error off of a ball put into play by senior outfielder JJ Sarty.
The Raiders tallied a run in the third inning to cut the Rams’ lead to 4-1. With the bases loaded, outfielder/pitcher Grant Hoover put a ball into play with his bat that the Rams could not field properly. In the process, all runners advanced and catcher/infielder Jake Kennedy came in to score.
In the fifth inning, a sacrifice bunt RBI by Ty Painter caught the Rams off guard, as infielder Nick Spangler scored to trim the Rams’ lead to 4-2. An RBI single by outfielder Dalton Hoiles brought the Raiders to within one at a 4-3 deficit.
That deficit would quickly be erased still in that fifth inning, with Kennedy stepping to the plate and crushing a single that brought home two Raiders to help the Raiders take the lead for the first time in the game, with a 5-4 advantage.
Redshirt-junior outfielder Daniel Heleine responded in a big way for the Rams, countering the Raiders’ four-run fifth inning with a homerun to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth at 5-5.
Later in the top of the seventh inning, with the game still tied, Hoiles advanced to first base on a fielder’s choice and recorded an RBI with Painter coming in to score. In the play, the Rams chose to let Hoiles get to first base, and threw the ball to second base to get out infielder Cash Gladfelter, but got greedy and tried to throw out infielder Ryan McMillen as well, who was heading to third base.
With the throw a little off from the Rams’ second baseman, McMillen saw the opportunity and rounded third base and reached home plate before the tag was applied, giving the Raiders a 7-5 lead.
Needing to move on from the play, the Rams got a little rally going in the bottom of the eighth inning, with Haymaker again coming through, this time with a RBI double to left field to bring in McCourt to narrow the deficit to 7-6.
Heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, the Rams needed a spark to score the tying run. However, the Raiders were able to close the game out, getting Sarty to ground out, and Farley and junior infielder/outfielder Chase Hoffman to fly out to end the game.
Pitcher Andy Crum (1-2) came in for relief for the Raiders and earned the win. In his 2.2 innings of work, he allowed one run on three hits, walking one, and striking out two.
Senior pitcher Brandon Hovel (0-2) took the loss for the Rams. He allowed two runs on two hits and struck out one in his two innings of work.
On Thursday afternoon, the Rams continue their home stand with a double-header matchup against UVa-Wise. Game one starts at 1 p.m., followed by game two at 3:30 p.m.
Anthony Bracken is the Sports Editor of The Picket. He can be reached at email@example.com