The Rams (6-8, 1-1 MEC) traveled to Buckhannon, West Virginia, Sunday afternoon, March 18, and split double header action with the West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats (2-12, 1-1 MEC) by scores of 8-0 and 0-5. Both the Rams and Bobcats held one another to shut outs through the course of the double-header, which saw the Rams come out with an 8-0 victory in game one. In game two, the Rams fell by a 5-0 score. The Rams’ overall record now sits at 6-8 and 1-1 in MEC play.
West Virginia Wesleyan now has an overall record of 2-12. The Bobcats’ win in game two against the Rams marked their second win of the season.
The early game saw the Rams explode on the offensive side of the ball, with the team notching 16 total hits in route to scoring eight runs. Coupled with the defense holding the shutout, all the ingredients to a convincing win were there.
Shepherd started the scoring in the early game in the top of the second inning with junior left fielder Reid Entsminger hitting an RBI-single, bringing home sophomore catcher Christian Hamel, giving the Rams an early 1-0 lead. The Rams increased their lead to 2-0 in the very next at-bat when Shepherd’s sophomore second basemen Eric Sloper hit an RBI-single himself, scoring senior third basemen Chase Hoffman on the play.
The scoring stalled at 2-0 until the seventh inning, as both defenses were able to tighten and strand several runners on base. The top of the seventh inning saw the Rams explode for six runs in a massive momentum swing. Hamel kicked off the scoring with a two-RBI triple. Junior first basemen Justin Smith and junior right fielder Nick Atkinson scored on the play, stretching the Rams’ lead to 4-0 at this point.
Rams senior designated hitter Dalton Haymaker blew the game open with a three-run homerun later in the inning. Four at-bats later, Rams sophomore center fielder Brenton Doyle put the icing on the win with a triple to center field that brought Entsminger around home to get the final 8-0 score.
Shepherd starting pitcher Ryan Potts secured his fourth win of the season to improve to a 4-1 record on the season.
The late game was a complete flip of the script from the first, with the Bobcats holding the Rams to a 5-0 shutout. Bobcat starting pitcher Griffen Roe, a sophomore, pitched a solid five and two-thirds innings, allowing only two hits and picking up his first win of the season in the process.
Bobcats senior second basemen Greg Smith scored the first run for the Bobcats in the bottom of the first inning off a ground out by redshirt-senior first baseman Riley Metz, providing the Bobcats with a 1-0 lead. Sophomore catcher Eric Forbrick scored to extend the lead to 2-0 for the Bobcats after an RBI-single by redshirt-junior center fielder Dylan Frye, as West Virginia Wesleyan took control of the game in the bottom of the second inning. Frye tried to stretch the single into a double by rounding first base and sprinting to second base, but the Rams were able to tag him out on the play.
The nail in the metaphorical coffin came for the Rams in the bottom of the fifth inning after a scoreless streak from both teams.
Smith got his first hit of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning and made it count. Smith hit a three-run homerun to extend the lead to 5-0 at this point. The Rams were unable to recover from that, along with the five runners left on base in scoring position.
Rams junior starting pitcher Collin Benner picked up the loss in the late game. His season record now stands at 0-3.
With the split in the double-header action against West Virginia Wesleyan, the Rams must now look forward to their next opponent in the Glenville State College Pioneers. On Monday afternoon, March 19, the Rams face another road double-header on the road against the Pioneers. Game one begins at 1 p.m., followed by game two at 3:30 p.m.
Vaughn Brewer is a sports writer for The Picket. He can be reached at email@example.com