Sarty’s dramatic home run is a “season saver”
All the late-winter days where frostbite and jumbled playing dates had to be factored into Shepherd’s baseball schedule nearly went for naught.
On Saturday, with their once-formidable conference lead down to one game, the Rams were facing a shouldn’t-have-been loss to Urbana on Fairfax Field’s manicured playing surface.
It was the first game of a doubleheader . . . and Shepherd needed all four games of consecutive weekend twinbills to keep its shrunken lead over fast-closing West Virginia State.
Once trailing by a 4-0 count, the Rams had righted themselves and taken a 6-4 lead into the last inning.
But usually reliable relief pitcher Brian Martin had been unable to find the strike zone — walking four, making a throwing error and being further solved for a two-run single — as he yielded four runs and saw the Blue Knights take an 8-6 lead.
Shepherd had already lost seven of its last 14 games. Another loss might be fatal to its hopes of winning the Mountain East Conference regular-season race.
Trailing by two runs, the Rams were down to their last two outs when Bryce Shemer singled sharply. Jacob Carney followed with liner to left for another single. Carney and Shemer would each advance a base when Carney’s hit was misplayed in the outfield.
The tying run was in scoring position.
J.J. Sarty batted against Urbana closer Jeff Beall.
When Sarty swung at a Beall sidearm curveball, Carney was no longer in scoring position. He romped home just in front of Sarty who had just deposited a game-winning, season-saving, three-run home run over the left-field fence as the Rams loudly celebrated a 9-8 win.
Sarty’s longball avoided what could have been a demoralizing loss.
Shemer had three singles and Carney, Sarty and Dom Wyshinski all contributed two hits to Shepherd’s 12-hit offense.
In the second game, the Rams seemingly took no chances once starting pitcher Jamie Driver got out of first-inning trouble with no runs scoring against him.
Shepherd opened with six runs in its half of the first, sending 12 men to the plate and getting a two-run homer from Sarty.
Driver blanked the Blue Knights through his six innings. And Shepherd cruised to an 11-0 win with its 21 baserunners. Daniel Heleine homered, Zane Bard had three RBIs, Dom Wyshinski was hit three times by pitches and Spencer Wolfe scored three runs.
Driver allowed only four hits in his six innings . . . and the Rams were 29-9 in conference games with another doubleheader coming on Sunday.