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SWEEP: Shepherd baseball stings Yellow Jackets

By Staff | Mar 28, 2014

Shepherd pitcher Paul Hvozdovic usually works with marginal offensive support. He is often paired with any opponent’s best pitcher, and the runs he gets come grudgingly. But in the first game of an important conference doubleheader last Friday against visiting West Virginia State, Hvozdovic received seven runs in the Rams’ first four turns. And he needed them all.

The slender senior left-hander didn’t bring his best stuff to Fairfax Field. And he struggled in his six innings of work.

It was Shepherd’s offense that delivered a 7-5 win that wasn’t sealed until Rams’ reliever Ryan Pansch, after yielding three hits in his one inning, got two straight strikeouts to end the pins and needles game.

Hvozdovic had survived without his best fastball, breaking ball or an economy of pitches. His record was 4-0. Even when struggling, Hvozdovic didn’t walk anybody and was able to jump around and avoid the variety of misplays made behind him. In his six innings, he allowed eight hits, fanned three and was charged with only two earned runs.

It was a good thing the Rams scored early and often because their defense committed a sinful six errors.

It was once a 7-1 Shepherd lead, courtesy of a four-run first inning, Spencer Wolfe’s solo homer and early RBIs from Michael Lott, Kyle Porter, Matt Wilson and Ryan Messina.

At the very end, after Hvozdovic had left, the Yellow Jackets were within two runs and had the tying run on first. That’s when Pansch was able to strike out Trent Porter and Zach Cloxton to finally pinch off the last-ditch rally.

The visitors stranded nine runners in all. Shepherd was never retired in order, but had runners thrown out on the bases to end the first three innings.

Shepherd’s 14-4 win in the nightcap was anything but easy. West Virginia State managed six hits and four runs in its first two turns against Jamie Driver, who eventually gave the Rams six innings and got the win.

In nearly every Shepherd game, the top five hitters in their lineup provide what offense the team produces.

In the 10-run victory, the last four batters in the lineup reached base on 11 of their combined 17 at-bats.

Jacob Carney was 4-for-5, T.J. Weisenburg was on base four straight times and Brandon Coffey reached safely twice.

With all the help from the lower end of the batting order, the Rams inundated the Yellow Jackets with a seven-run inning and another four-run turn.

The one-time 4-0 deficit was washed away. Mostly by the lower end of the order.

In its six turns, the Rams had 16 hits and 25 baserunners.

The top of the order wasn’t silent by any means.

Matt Wilson went 4-for-4 with three infield hits, Wolfe was on base four times and Michael Lott reached safely three times. Those three continued to give the Rams needed offensive production.

Driver got the win. He allowed only three harmless hits in his last four innings of work. Bryan DiRosario had a scoreless last inning.

The Rams had scattered West Virginia State with 25 hits and 40 baserunners in only 12 turns in the doubleheader sweep of the perennial contenders.

Hvozdovic had gotten ample run support. And the bottom of the batting order had damaged the Yellow Jackets in the nightcap.