Baseball Rams stagger Battlers, seek everyday lineup
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Fairfax Field was filled to capacity and then some when Shepherd played its first baseball games of the 2020 season in Shepherdstown. The Rams had been 3-6 before getting back home.
The welcomed temperatures and Alderson-Broaddus and its followers grew the crowd, and Shepherd rewarded its hundreds of fans with a three-game sweep of the Battlers.
By the close of last weekend, Shepherd had squared its record at 6-6 with an 8-7 win on Saturday and robust 16-2 and 18-6 wins on Sunday as Alderson-Broaddus struggled to find any pitchers that could give it any quiet innings and against the Rams. The Battlers left town with a 1-7 record.
Shepherd was trying to replace some of the now-gone, best hitters in school history. Brenton Doyle, Justin Smith, Eddie Nottingham and Syeed Mahti were gone as were Nick Atkinson and Christian Hamil. Replacing that cadre of NCAA Division II hitters will be a formidable task.
This year’s Ram edition wades into the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference for the first time.
Nobody expects there to be another Doyle this season — if ever. But runs will be a necessity if the games against the Battlers were any indication of what the Rams will put on display against the PSAC’s East Division.
Expected to produce hits, power, RBIs and runs are Jared Carr, Zach Doss, Dalton Stewart and Daniel Keer. That foursome pillaged the Battler pitchers and paced last weekend’s run-scoring Ram offense.
Were any other hitters found who might provide some consistent offense — and runs — when Shepherd isn’t helped with walks, errors and stolen bases?
So far, Joey Goldsmith and Joey Schwartz have been given the most playing time. Schwartz got his first hit of the season in a win over the Battlers. Trenton Burgreen plays every game at shortstop. He raised his batting average to .211 against the Battlers. Brennan Holmes and Connor DeWees were given at-bats and Easy Giota came back into the lineup at second base. Holmes had four hits, but Giota and DeWees went a combined 1-for-10. Joe Burack could be in the lineup as a designated hitter or utility player. Graduate student Trustin Riley was in the outfield as was transfer Colton Henson.
Several players from that group will have to step forward if the Rams are to be in the same conversations as East Division rivals West Chester, East Stroudsburg and Millersville. During the regular season the Rams don’t play West Division heavies Mercyhurst, California, Seton Hill or Pitt-Johnstown in games that count in the PSAC standings.
Against Alderson-Broaddus, Shepherd batters were walked or hit by a pitch 30 times in the combined three games. Even after scoring 42 runs in the three games, the Shepherd team batting average is .244.
Pitching has always been a solid commodity in the PSAC. Low-run conference games can commonly be found. Can Shepherd find three reliable starters when the weekends come with three-game series against the other eight East Division rivals?
There are still seven non-conference games to come before the PSAC in-fighting begins for the Rams at Shippensburg on March 13.
Carr and Doss need some consistent help. And Doyle, Smith, Nottingham and Mahti are not lurking in the Shepherd dugout.