Hvozdovic flirts with no-hitter in shutout win
One of the primary reasons Shepherd rests in first place in the Mountain East Conference has been the left-handed pitching of senior Paul Hvozdovic.
Hvodozvic moved his record to 8-0 when the Rams blanked West Liberty, 8-0, in the first game of last Saturday’s conference doubleheader against the overmatched Hilltoppers.
Through four innings, Shepherd’s career leader in victories hadn’t allowed a hit and had already fanned six of the 11 Hilltoppers he would chop down on strikes.
Once given a three-run lead in the first, Hvozdovic strode through the West Liberty lineup with a confidence attained with his in-the-strike-zone curveball and fastball. Entering the game, Hvozdovic had walked only four batters all year. It wasn’t until the Rams already had an 8-0 lead before he walked only the fifth man of his unbeaten season.
In the end, it was another complete game for the wiry lefty. He was touched for four hits while fanning the side in both the third and fifth innings.
Shepherd’s offense presented its route-going pitcher with three multi-run innings, including the first where six of the first seven batters reached base and Ryan Messina drove in two runs.
The Rams collected nine hits (all singles) but used five walks and four hit batsmen (three in succession to begin the three-run fifth) to increase their first-inning lead.
Leading hitter Spencer Wolfe scored three runs and was on base all four times he batted.
Messina was on base three times as were Jacob Carney and Brandon Coffey.
Multi-run innings, 18 baserunners in its six offensive turns and Hvozdovic’s mastery of the Hilltoppers were enough for the Rams to breeze to their 28th win of the season, leaving them with a 26-5 conference record in the newly formed Mountain East.