After two wins, Shepherd falters in league tournament
BECKLEY – Shepherd had used multi-run innings to defeat both Virginia-Wise and Concord, in its first two games in the double-elimination Mountain East Conference baseball tournament staged in Beckley, last weekend.
But with a 2-0 tournament record, the Rams lost to Charleston, 10-2, in a game between the only unbeaten teams left in the tournament. Trying to stay alive in its fourth game, Shepherd fell victim to a six-run inning, as well as a three-run inning and a two-run inning posted by Notre Dame. The Falcons eventually posted a 13-10 win over the Rams and sent Shepherd out of the tournament.
Shepherd’s 2-2 record in the tournament, coupled with its regular season record, left the Rams with a 36-16 overall record for the 2019 season.
Senior utility player Justin Smith led the Rams with an 8-for-16 offensive showing in the four games Shepherd played.
The Rams survived an early Virginia-Wise lead in its opening game, by notching four runs in the eighth to win.
Smith was 2-for-4 with a home run and Brenton Doyle drove in two runs with a home run. Adam Miller was credited for the winning pitch, while Tyler Shorter landed his first save of the year.
In its second game, Shepherd rallied for three runs in the sixth to edge Concord, 5-3.
Doyle was 3-for-5 with a triple and double, and Christian Hamel was 4-for-5.
Mitchell Wilson improved to 8-2 with five innings of work, and Eric OBrien earned his first save with the last four innings.
Facing equally unbeaten Charleston, the Rams ran aground, falling 10-2 while being outhit, 13-5.
Smith homered and was 2-for-3. Steve Bowley was the losing pitcher, lasting 2.1 innings and surrendering seven runs (six earned). Shorter pitched 6.2 innings and yielded six hits and four earned runs. Needing three consecutive wins to be crowned tournament champions, Shepherd fell, 13-10, to Notre Dame, as its starting pitching couldn’t hold the Ohioans.
Notre Dame outhit the Rams, 19-12. Ryan Marketell (seven hits in 1.2 innings) and Brandon Cook (five hits in 3.1 innings) took the brunt of the Notre Dame offensive spree.
Notre Dame had a 7-0 lead, before Shepherd rallied for six runs in the third and tied it at 7-7 in the fourth.
Syeed Mahtin had a grand slam homer, with Smith landing a triple and double and Eric Sloper a solo homer.
Jared Carr was 3-for-4 for the Rams.
Charleston defeated Notre Dame, 9-8, to win the tournament and the Mountain East Conference’s automatic berth in the Mid-Atlantic Region Tournament.