The Rams (26-19, 22-6 MEC) split a home double-header with the Falcons (16-30, 11-17 MEC) Sunday afternoon. In game one, the Rams fell by a 7-3 score, but responded with a thrilling 8-7 victory in game two.
Things were not looking good for the Rams early on. In the top of the third inning, two errors by Rams’ defenders off of a hit by the Falcons’ infielder Nick Ely led to the game’s first run, which was scored by outfielder Danny Beaver. The 1-0 lead would grow not long thereafter.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Falcons showed the Rams just how potent their offense can be, scoring four runs in the inning. Beaver was issued a bases-loaded-walk, while Ely hurt the Rams again with a RBI single to left field that stretched the lead to 3-0.
It was clear that redshirt-freshman pitcher Joe Rindone (L, 5-4) was not performing at his best (3.2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 7 BB, 5 SO). The seven walks he gave to the Falcons really ended up costing the Rams, as he could not seem to locate his pitches.
This lack of command led to outfielder Adam Purdy of the Falcons getting walked with the bases loaded, which led to another Falcons’ run. It would get worse for the Rams when all runners advanced a base after a passed ball by the Rams, which gave enough time for Beaver to come in and steal home to take a 4-0 lead.
If there was one standout performance for the Rams, it came from the bat of junior infielder/outfielder Chase Hoffman. He had a RBI single to center field in the bottom of the fifth inning that brought in freshman outfielder Brenton Doyle to trim the Falcons’ lead to 6-1.
Hoffman would come up to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning and deliver a two-run homerun that made the score more respectable than perhaps it was.
Starting pitcher Jeff Stover had a great performance from the Falcons, however. In six innings of work, he allowed just two runs on five hits, walking four, and striking out two.
In game two, things would be a different story for the Rams, as the offense exploded to the tune of five runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Senior infielder Tyler Piccolo opened up the scoring with his double to center field that drove home two Rams’ runners, culminating in an early 2-0 lead.
Piccolo would score an unearned run when senior infielder Brandon Kirk got to first base and then second base due to an error by the Falcons’ first baseman. Piccolo saw the opportunity and flew around third base to capitalize on the error.
Sophomore outfielder Reid Entsminger stretched the Rams’ lead to 5-0 in the bottom of the first inning with his two-run homerun to left field that also drove home Kirk.
The Falcons would keep their composure, however, scoring three runs in the top of the sixth inning to narrow the Rams’ lead to 5-3.
Beaver launched a RBI triple to right center field that brought in outfielder TJ Lett to narrow the lead to 5-2. Beaver would later advance home thanks to infielder Nick Ely’s groundout to second base that gave Beaver enough of a distraction to get home, making the score 5-3.
Still in the top of the sixth inning, catcher/utility player Jacob Carpenter gave the Rams reason to panic with his RBI single to right field that cut the lead to 5-4.
With the lead reduced, the Rams’ bats responded in big ways, scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to produce an 8-4 lead.
Hoffman’s RBI double to left field allowed senior outfielder JJ Sarty to come in and score. Later in the inning, on a wild pitch, Hoffman found his way home, as this costly error was a key factor in the game’s outcome.
Piccolo showed off his baserunning skills by stealing home later in the inning to augment the Rams’ lead to 8-4.
Entering the top of the ninth inning, the Rams appeared to have the game well in hand, until they did not. After walking two batters and allowing a single, Ely cleared the bases for the Falcons with his bases-clearing triple that gave the Falcons the spark they needed.
With the lead down to just one with an 8-7 score, outfielder Adam Purdy represented the go-ahead-run. Ely was at third base, needing his teammate to get him home.
However, Purdy flied out to left field, which ended the game and preserved an 8-7 victory the Rams nearly blew.
Kenny Pierson (L, 3-5) took the loss for the Falcons. After a rough first inning, Pierson (4.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO) settled down, but he and the Falcons could not overcome their early mistakes.
Sophomore starting pitcher AJ Stead (W, 4-5) earned the win for the Rams. Stead (5.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO) had a solid performance for the Rams, even considering his two wild pitches.
The Rams hit the field again on Saturday, May 6, on the road against Fairmont State in a double-header that starts at 1 p.m.
Anthony Bracken is the Sports Editor of The Picket. He can be reached at email@example.com