Messy midweek game gets away from Shepherd
On an 0-2 pitch to Drew Bene, Shepherd’s Justin Smith, the Rams’ fifth pitcher of the frosty afternoon, hit Shippensburg’s first batter in the 10th inning of a tie game.
It was the defining moment of the error-strewn, hit-happy, non-conference game that had easily forgotten happenings other than stranded base runners, strikeouts and ineffective early-game pitching.
Bene moved on to second when Cash Gladfelter tried to sacrifice him along and Shepherd botched the bunt. After Scout Knotts made his fifth out of the day, Jack Goertzen drew a one-out walk from Smith to load the bases.
Shippensburg had only one out. Tommy Baggett lifted a fly to deepest centerfield. Nobody caught his drive near the outfield fence, and Bene romped home from third with the game-deciding run in the long-comeback 12-11 win by the Red Raiders. The near-400-foot fly will be the longest single Baggett will ever deliver.
How could Shepherd see leads of 7-0, 9-2 and 11-4 evaporate into a loss? Its five pitchers were no mystery to the Raiders, who had at least one hit in all 10 innings. After totaling 11 runs in six innings, the Rams couldn’t score again in their final four turns. Wild pitches, hit batsmen, walks and errors helped Shippensburg flood the bases and the scoreboard with runners and runs.
The Red Raiders put 26 runners aboard against the offerings of Ryan Potts, Logan Manz, Adam Miller, Mitchell Johnson and, finally, Smith, the loser in the dramatic ending. Shepherd couldn’t survive its pitching and defensive miseries even with 21 base runners of its own.
Shippensburg stranded 12 runners, while the Rams left 10 men on base. Raider pitchers Zack Sims, Jack Jenkens and Kyle Lyzy quieted Shepherd in the final four innings, while Shippensburg slowly advanced after the Ram lead that once was 11-4.
Home runs off Miller by Nick Spangler and Dalton Hoiles brought the score back to 11-6. Baggett’s two-run shot off Miller made it 11-8 in the next inning. Two runs off Johnson in the eighth had the score at 11-10. Smith was momentarily saved by a running catch by outfielder Nick Atkinson in the ninth, but with two out and nobody on base, Smith was touched for Grant Hoover’s single and then Spangler’s line drive hit to left. Smith was charged with two wild pitches as Hoover moved along to third and then scored to make it an 11-11 game.
In the 10th, Shepherd went down in order and the Raiders used the hit batsman, Bene, to begin the final end for the Rams.
Atkinson had three hits, Brenton Doyle and Smith had home runs, Eddie Nottingham was credited with three singles and both Doyle and Christian Hamel drove in three runs for the Rams.
The Rams proved once again that no lead in baseball is enough – or safe.