Shepherd routinely wins two vs. Wheeling
It’s almost as if opponents’ hitters jump out of their shoes to get to the bat rack, select a weapon and then sprint to the batter’s box to face Wheeling Jesuit pitching. Last Friday, it was Shepherd’s turn to reach base in immense numbers, find its way around the bases and beat the four-win Cardinals.
The scores favoring Shepherd in the doubleheader sweep of its conference foe were 11-2 and 12-6, leaving the North Division-leading Rams with a 14-4 Mountain East Conference record.
In the blowout opener, Eddie Nottingham and Reid Entsminger had Shepherd home runs and the Rams had three multi-run innings. Shepherd sent a total of 38 batters to the plate and 20 of them reached base against Cardinal pitchers Michael Finch and Hayden Hizer.
Wheeling Jesuit, which came to Fairfax Field with a .204 team batting average, managed five hits in its seven turns against Shepherd’s Justin Smith (five innings) and Nic Hammer.
Brenton Doyle had two doubles and Nottingham and Entsminger both contributed triples in addition to their homers. Nottingham, Entsminger, Brian McCourt and Chase Hoffman all scored at least two runs.
Sacrificing a runner from first to second with one out, while trailing by five runs and attempting to steal second when behind by nine runs, the Cardinals had their record dip to 4-21. A five-run opening inning put Shepherd in a prime position to win the nightcap, and another five-run outburst in the third had the Rams gliding along with an 11-0 lead.
Another deluge of base runners – 18 in their six turns – profited the Rams.
Nick Atkinson led off the first with a home run. McCourt and pinch-hitter Riley Lazich also had homers. McCourt and Eric Sloper each drove in three runs as the Rams were helped by five walks, a hit batter and the stolen bases they took.
However, Shepherd starting pitcher Colin Benner couldn’t get the required four innings to be credited with a win, giving way to Noah Auman (five batters, two walks and a double), then Wes Martin (eight base runners in 2.2 innings) before Hammer got the final out.
Wheeling Jesuit had managed nine hits in the doubleheader loss, and its record was 4-22 with Saturday’s two games against the Rams coming the next afternoon.