West, Lott help Rams halve Sunday games vs. Concord
Mac West was pitching for the second consecutive day. Michael Lott was collecting five hits in Shepherd’s conference doubleheader against league-leading Concord.
West would get a vital late-game strikeout to end Concord’s last threat in Shepherd’s 7-5 win in the snow-curtailed second game of the Mountain East Conference twinbill played on Sunday at refurbished and historic Fairfax Field. Lott had two hits in the bob-tailed victory, after collecting three hits in the opener, won, 4-1, by the Mountain Lions.
The teams split the four-game weekend series, leaving Concord with a 10-2 conference record and the Rams with an 8-4 mark.
West, a long, tall right-hander with a crackling fastball and reasonable control, got a save after trotting through the light snow from the Shepherd bullpen in the already-troubling Concord fifth. The redshirt freshman got two outs in that inning and then worked past a one-out walk in the sixth to preserve a near must-win for the Rams.
If Shepherd had lost the nightcap of Sunday’s doubleheader, it would have been four games behind the Mountain Lions.
West’s save came as an hour-long snow was covering the grass portions of the field. The infield was still bare, but wet from being watered down in a pre-game ritual despite a consensus of weather forecasts predicting snow in the afternoon.
When West had retired the Mountain Lions in the top of the sixth, the umpires — one wearing ear muffs and gloves — decided the playing conditions had worsened enough that the game should not continue. It was already an official game. And suddenly it was one Shepherd had won.
After the Rams had been helped by a gift-wrapped, three-run first inning, Concord had rallied to get even at 4-4 by the close of just three innings.
In the Shepherd fourth, the Rams staged another three-run rally that saw Spencer Wolfe drive in a run and Ryan Messina come through with a two-RBI single with two outs. Shepherd had given hard-working pitcher Austin Hale a 7-4 lead to protect.
Hale couldn’t retire either of batters he saw to begin the fifth. On came West as the grassy areas of the field took on more snow.
West retired two of the three men he saw in the inning. Charles Goss had produced a sacrifice fly to move Shepherd’s lead back to 7-5.
West then threw mostly strikes in the Concord sixth, retiring the last two men he saw on outfield flies.
In the opener, Shepherd starting pitcher, Ryan Pansch, had problems from the first batter that Concord sent against him until he left after five innings. The sophomore right-hander never retired Concord without seeing at least one baserunner in every inning. He would allow 13 runners to reach, one when he failed to cleanly field a sacrifice bunt attempt.
Pansch allowed four walks, hit a batter, committed a balk, made an error on a bunt and threw late to third base on still another bunt attempt.
Andrew Seigel, Concord’s leadoff man, saw seven straight fastballs from Pansch and after falling behind 0-2 in the count, drew a walk in what became a two-run inning when T.J. Brockway had a two-out, two-run single.
Shepherd was behind. And would never catch up against right-hander Zach Kelly. Kelly waded through trouble in three different innings where the Rams had two hits, but had a shutout and a 4-0 lead through six innings.
n the seventh, Kyle Porter’s sacrifice fly plated Brandon Coffey, who had doubled, to keep the Rams from being blanked.
The Rams stranded eight runners and did little with their nine hits. Lott had three singles in the loss.
Snow ended the weekend series.
The conference’s top two teams had each won two games.
And Shepherd had doubleheaders ahead this weekend at Fairfax Field against another conference front-runner, always competitive West Virginia State and highly successful, long-time coach Cal Bailey.