Pitching early homers tames Virginia State in non-conference game
Near-spotless pitching from Mitchell Johnson, Wes Martin and Colin Benner, along with early home runs from Christian Hamel and Chase Hoffman, led Shepherd to a 13-3 mid-week, non-conference win over Virginia State on a bleak afternoon, where the game was played in quick order and the cold couldn’t take complete control.
Johnson went three scoreless innings, followed by Martin’s two unscored-upon innings and Benner’s three spotless frames. Only Nic Hammer in his one inning of four-hit, two-walk work proved to be no problem for the visiting Trojans.
Hamel’s two-run homer in the first, plus Hoffman’s three-run drive in the third were most of Shepherd’s offensive damage as the Rams moved crisply to a 6-0 lead after only three innings.
Shepherd improved to 22-12 overall and had a .327 team batting average after its 34 games. The Rams managed 16 hits against three Spartan pitchers. None of the Shepherd starters was around when the game ended with a complete lineup of reserves on the field.
Leading the Shepherd offense were Eddie Nottingham (three singles) along with Brenton Doyle and Justin Smith, each with two hits.
Johnson struck out two, Martin fanned three and Benner allowed only one hit in his three innings.
Shepherd was 16-4 in Mountain East Conference games and maintained a four-game lead over North Division rival West Liberty (12-8) going into last weekend’s four-game series between the two teams.
The Rams have only two more home dates in the 2018 season- on May 1, against Shippensburg (Pa.), and on May 4, against conference opponent Fairmont.