Lott, Messina RBIs, Driver’s seventh win pace Rams
With Michael Lott driving in four runs and Ryan Messina contributing three RBIs, Shepherd combined a seven-run inning and the low-run pitching of Jamie Driver to stop West Liberty, 13-2, in the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader sweep of visiting West Liberty.
Driver fell behind when the Hilltoppers scored their only two runs in the first inning.
But Shepherd quickly countered with three first-inning runs of its own when Matt Wilson, playing with a broken bone in his hand, doubled home Lott and Spencer Wolfe.
Driver settled in and blanked West Liberty in his next three innings of work before the upstart Rams sent 11 men to the plate in their half of the fourth, scoring seven times and gifting Driver with a 10-2 lead.
In the huge inning, Lott produced a three-run triple to deepest right center and Wolfe had an RBI double. Ryan Messina had two hits in the inning.
Driver was extricated from trouble in the third when three one-out singles loaded the bases. But then Scott Castilow bunted right back to Driver, who threw to catcher Wolfe for a forceout. When the sliding Jon-Michael Brunner brushed the leg of Wolfe, Castilow was also called out because in college baseball any player sliding can’t make contact with fielders.
The West Liberty inning had produced nothing more than an agrument between the plate umpire and Hilltopper coach Eric Burkle.
The Rams continued to score as Lott had an RBI double and Messina and pinch-hitter Jason Hepple drove in runs.
Driver improved his record to 7-1, going six innings while allowing nine hits but no walks. He struck out only three.
Wilson and Messina each collected three of Shepherd’s 12 hits and Lott and Wolfe both contributed two of the Rams’ dozen safeties.
The wide-open wins on Saturday lifted Shepherd’s overall record to 29-8 and league mark to 27-5. The Hilltoppers were 18-13 in conference play and 21-18 overall.
Wolfe, Lott and Jacob Carney all had .400-plus batting averages. And Driver was among the league leaders in pitching victories.