The Rams (0-1) lost their opening game of the 2018 season on the road by a 10-4 score Friday afternoon, Feb. 2, in Pembroke, North Carolina, at Cox field against the UNC Pembroke Braves (1-0).
The Braves were able to capitalize on their home field advantage by jumping out to an early 2-0 lead by the bottom of the first inning. Braves redshirt sophomore first basemen Ethan Baucom got the first of his four total RBIs on the day in his first at bat of the day by singling to left center field to bring home center fielder Roberto Rivera to give the Braves an early 1-0 lead. A throwing error by Rams sophomore shortstop Eric Sloper helped Rivera score on the play as well.
Baucom’s single and Sloper’s error seemed to help set the tone early on for the Braves offensively
After Pembroke’s redshirt freshman catcher Trevor Clemons scored on a wild pitch by Shepherd’s junior pitcher Ryan Potts, Shepherd managed to get out of the inning trailing by just a 2-0 score.
The Rams opened their scoring in the top of the third inning with an RBI single by sophomore catcher Christian Hamel, allowing time for sophomore second baseman Trenton Burgeen to come in to score, making the score just 2-1 now in favor of the Braves.
Pembroke then scored five straight runs to extend their lead to 7-1 through seven innings of play. The Rams would not score their next run until the top of the eighth inning, when the damage had already been done.
Rivera and Clemons both scored two times during the Braves’ 5-0 run. For the game, Rivera and Clemons were the top performers for the Braves, as both scored three times in their five at bats.
Rams junior left fielder Reid Entsminger was able to stop the bleeding after reaching base in the top of the eighth inning, and a fielding error by Braves’ redshirt freshman third baseman Trey Jacobs enabled Entsminger to make it home later in the inning.
Sloper and junior first baseman Justin Smith tacked on two additional runs in the top of the eighth inning for the Rams thanks to sophomore center fielder Brenton Doyle’s double down the right field line that brought them both home on the play.
This helped cut the Braves’ lead to a 7-4 score now going into the bottom of the eighth inning.
That would be as close as the Rams could get the lead down to, however, as Pembroke added three additional runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to finish the game with 10.
This helped grow their lead to six runs going into the top of the ninth inning, where the Rams simply did not have enough left in the tank to fueld a desparation comeback attempt.
Braves senior pitcher Anthony Burke secured his first win of the season, striking out four Rams and walking no batters in his six innings of work. Junior pitcher Hank Simpson came in relief of Burke and notched the save.
Rams pitcher Ryan Potts gets credited with his first loss on the season. Potts did post six strikeouts against the Braves, but allowed three earned runs on five hits. Against the Braves, Potts recorded two walks as well.
The Rams totaled 13 hits on 39 team at bats and the batters were walked just one time. Pembroke batters totaled eight hits on 29 at bats and reached base an astounding seven times due to walks.
The Rams will hope to rebound from this performance when they take the field again against the Braves in a double-header on Saturday, Feb. 3, in Pembroke, North Carolina again. Game one is slated to start at 11:30 a.m., followed by game two at 2 p.m.
Vaughn Brewer is a sports writer for The Picket, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org