The Rams (17-14, 14-2 MEC) took both games of a road double-header against the Blue Knights (12-19, 6-10 MEC) Sunday afternoon. In game one, the Rams won by a 6-3 score. Game two looked more like a football game, as the Rams came out on top 19-17.
Redshirt-junior infielder/outfielder Daniel Heleine and senior outfielder Ron Farley both had a two-RBI single to left field and right center field, respectively, to give the Rams a 4-0 lead in the top of the third inning.
Junior infielder/catcher Dalton Haymker made the lead 6-0 with his RBI single in the top of the sixth inning to right field that drove home sophomore outfielder Reid Entsminger.
Ryan Pansch (W, 5-0), a junior, was given plenty of run support, but he would hardly need it on this day. He pitched six innings, allowed one run on four hits, walked one, and struck out six. Even though he had a wild pitch, his performance gave the Rams no reason to doubt the outcome of the game.
Freshman pitcher Noah Auman came in relief for Pansch in the seventh inning, surrenduring two runs. The first of these runs came off the bat of infielder Brent West, who singled through the left side to drive in infielder Damario Brown to cut the lead to 6-2.
Outfielder Nick Gallagher got West home with his RBI single to center field to trim the lead to 6-3, but Auman was able to finish off the game. A groundout by infielder Connor Coy closed the game out.
Starting pitcher Jackson Everman (L, 3-1, 2.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 2 SO) could never really get comfortable against the Rams’ lineup.
However, he would not be the only pitcher to have a rough day, as the two teams would combine to score 36 runs in game two, with the Rams winning 19-17.
Senior outfielder JJ Sarty would lead off the top of the first inning with a two-run homerun to center field to provide the Rams with a 2-0 lead, but that lead would be short-lived. The Blue Knights scored three runs in the bottom of the inning to retake a 3-2 lead.
Junior infielder/outfielder Chase Hoffman blasted a three-run homerun to center field to put the Rams back on top 5-3 in the top of the third inning, but would lose the lead later in the inning.
This was thanks to a RBI single by infielder Mickey Barea put the Blue Knights back in front 6-5 in the bottom of the third inning.
In this offensive barrage, the Rams scored three runs on two wild pitches and one passed ball in the top of the fifth inning to take a 9-6 lead. However, as was the theme all game long, the Rams were not able to hold the lead, as a fielding error, RBI bunt, and fielder’s choice lead to three runs for the Blue Knights in the bottom of the fifth inning. This made the scored tied at 9-9 going into the sixth inning.
The scoring was just getting started for both sides as it turned out, however. A five-run sixth inning, capped off by freashman outfielder Brenton Doyle’s two-run homerun to left field, seemed to have put the Rams up for good with a 14-10 lead.
This did not prove to be the case, however, as the Blue Knights would counter with seven runs in the bottom of the sixth inning alone. Two singles by the Blue Knights generated four runs, while three of them were scored thanks to the Rams’ hitting a batter with the bases loaded and a throwing error by the shortstop.
Outfielder Mickey Losey and West scored both of the unearned runs for the Blue Knights on the error by the Rams’ shortstop.
Now with a 17-14 lead heading into the top of the seventh inning, the Blue Knights were hanging on for dear life against the lethal Rams’ offense. Just like the theme seemed to be on this day though, the Rams would surge back into the lead.
In the top of the ninth inning, Doyle stepped up again and sent a RBI single up the middle to score Heleine, which cut the lead to 17-15. Senior infielder Mike Brown and Brandon Kirk both delivered RBI singles to tie the game at 17-17.
Still needing to retake the lead, freshman catcher Joe Burack came through when the Rams needed it most with a two-RBI double to left center field that gave the Rams a two-run lead at 19-17.
With two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Blue Knights were unable to get the tying runs home, as the final three batters fouled out, struck out, and flied out, respectively, to close out this high-scoring affair.
Sophomore pitcher Ryan Simpson (W, 1-2, 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 3 SO) got the victory for the Rams on a day when the pitching struggled to say the least. Pitcher Robbie Guerrero (L, 0-2, 2.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 1 SO) took the loss in a game where there was plenty of blame to go around.
Senior infielder Jacob Carney also became the Rams’ all-time leader in career hits, getting four of them in game two. He now has 251 career hits, passing Nathan Minninch and Michael Lott, who are now tied for second with 250 career hits.
With these two victories, the Rams are now up by one game over West Liberty in the North Division in the Mountain East Conference standings.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Rams have another double-header road matchup against Virginia State. Game one is at 2:00 p.m., followed by game two at 4:30 p.m.
Anthony Bracken is the Sports Editor of The Picket. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org