Shepherd joins Regional field despite MEC tournament loss
Even with Justin Smith going 14-for-18 in his five games and pitcher Ryan Potts getting two wins, Shepherd couldn’t find a pitcher to get it past Charleston in the Mountain East Conference tournament’s championship game.
After dropping a 7-5 decision to the Golden Eagles in their third game, the Rams defeated Notre Dame, 6-2, with Adam Miller’s complete game pitching effort, and then pummeled Charleston, 24-2, to reach the league’s title game with a 4-1 record in the event.
Both Shepherd and Charleston had one loss in the double elimination tournament.
Shepherd’s Ryan Potts had beaten West Virginia State in the event’s opener Thursday and returned on two days’ rest in Shepherd’s 24-2 win Sunday to get another win. Potts is 11-1.
The Rams defeated Concord, 14-5, in their second game, with pitcher Logan Manz moving his record to 4-0. Then came the 7-5 loss to Charleston, making it necessary for Shepherd to win three straight times to become the event’s champion.
Notre Dame fell to Miller’s complete game effort Saturday, and on Sunday the Rams blasted Charleston on that day’s first game.
The Rams started Wes Martin on the mound in Sunday’s second game and he proved to be no mystery to the Golden Eagles, who had a 9-0 lead early in the game.
Shepherd eventually closed to within 9-7, and Colin Benner held Charleston scoreless for 4.1 innings in the middle of the game.
Smith had three hits in four different games and went 2-for-2 in his other game. He homered three times and drove in nine runs as the Rams went 4-2 overall in the four-day event. Nick Atkinson also contributed three home runs in the tournament. Brenton Doyle and Brian McCourt each had two homers. Doyle had nine RBIs and nine hits in the tournament. Eddie Nottingham drove in five runs with his eight tournament hits. Christian Hamel was 7-for-21 and McCourt was 7-for-22.
Following Sunday’s championship-game loss, Shepherd was selected as an at-large team to the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional being staged in West Lawn, Pennsylvania, at Owls Park.
The Rams were scheduled to open play in the double elimination event yesterday at 11 a.m. against PSAC tournament champion Seton Hill. Shepherd is the third-seeded team in the seven-team tournament, which crowns its champion Sunday, while the Griffins are the sixth-seeded team, despite steamrolling the opposition in the PSAC tournament.
The other teams in the Atlantic Regional tournament are defending national champion West Chester, Millersville, Bloomsburg, Mercyhurst and Charleston.
This will be the third straight season the Rams have qualified for the Atlantic Regional.