The Rams (8-10, 5-0 MEC) swept the Pioneers (3-11, 2-3) of Glenville State College by an 11-4 score in game one, followed by a shootout win of 14-12.
On offense, the Rams proved to be very potent from the start against the Pioneers. Their seven-run second inning really broke the game wide open for the Rams.
In that offensive explosion, with the Rams trailing 1-0, senior infielder, Brandon Kirk blasted home a grand slam to give the Rams a nice 4-1 cushion early on.
Later in the inning, with the bases loaded, senior outfielder Ron Farley was hit a pitch by the Pioneers’ starting pitcher Art’om Rank with the bases loaded, with junior infielder/catcher Dalton Haymaker scoring on the play.
Rank allowed the first seven hitters for the Rams in the inning to reach base before being substituted out. He allowed seven runs on five hits and walked two in his one inning of work.
Kirk would continue his strong day at the plate in the third inning with a solo-shot homerun to right field, giving the Rams an 8-1 lead at that point.
The Pioneers scored three runs in the fifth inning with outfielder Zach Sanford’s bases-clearing double to center field to cut the lead to 9-4 in the fifth inning, but this proved to be too little too late for the Pioneers.
Starting pitcher Joe Rindone (2-2), a redshirt-freshman, allowed four runs in five innings of work, but he played well enough to get the job done thanks to the Rams’ offensive production.
Rindone walked three Pioneers, but got them swinging with his seven strikeouts.
In game two, however, both sides showed they knew how to play a little offense.
Winning 14-12, the Rams needed nearly every run they got to pull out the win.
Pitcher Jacob Braniff reached first base off an error by the Rams’ pitcher that gave time for outfielder Christian Hedinger and infielder Zach Bacon to score on the play, giving the Pioneers a 4-1 lead in the second inning.
Just like they did in game one, the Rams came through with a seven run inning, this time in the third to take a commanding 8-4 lead.
In the third inning show, Farley, redshirt-junior infielder/outfielder Daniel Heleine, and sophomore outfielder Reid Entsminger each had a two-run homerun to light up the scoreboard for the Rams.
Outfielder Zach Sanford played a large part in getting the Pioneers back into the game.
Sanford had a pair of RBI doubles, but the one in the seventh inning tied the game at 12-12 as infielder/catcher John Peloro tied the game when he crossed home plate.
With the momentum in their hands, the Pioneers seemed poised to steal a game they thought they had blown earlier.
However, the Rams responded in the bottom of the inning when senior infielder Jacob Carney produced a RBI single to left center field that made freshman catcher Joe Burack the game’s eventual winning run, putting the Rams up 13-12.
In the eighth inning, junior infielder/outfielder Chase Hoffman belted a solo-shot homerun to give the Rams some more breathing room with a 14-12 lead.
Redhsirt-junior pitcher Dan Galati (1-0) came in relief for the Rams in the seventh inning and earned the win, closing out the Pioneers. In his three innings of work, Galati totaled one walk and strikeout, while allowing three hits.
After the game, through email, Head Coach Matt McCarty of the Rams talked about the challenges Glenville State presented:
“Glenville is a very scrappy team that plays hard for the entire game. It proved true in game two. They kept battling the entire game. We would extend our lead just to give up a few the next half [inning]. They are very scrappy and play the game hard.”
In terms of where the Rams played well and can improve upon going forward, McCarty said:
“Today we played well offensively and defensively. [We] Had timely hitting and made some big plays defensively when we needed it most. Things to fix going forward would be playing a complete game. We have won six in a row and we are playing better baseball as a whole but have yet to play our best. Just have to keep working hard everyday and play the game one hundred percent [hard] all the time. No matter what the score is or who the opponent is.”
The Rams will look to continue their strong play when they have another home double-header tomorrow afternoon against West Virginia Wesleyan College. Game one is 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 firstname.lastname@example.org