Shepherd’s Driver made the most of the few runs he received
By the time the fifth inning was completed, Shepherd had already seen five base runners thrown out while trying to steal, wandering too far off base or trying to stretch a single into a double.
The Rams had drubbed Charleston in the opener of Sunday’s conference doubleheader at Fairfax Field, but even with pitcher Jamie Driver keeping the Golden Eagles quiet, the home side was in danger of losing because of all the runners it had erased on the bases.
Just in time, Shepherd gave Driver two runs on five hits in the fifth . . . and the right-hander kept his record unbeaten when the late-game breakthrough proved just enough for a 3-1 Rams’ win.
Charleston had put the leadoff man on base in the first four innings against Driver, but had scored only one run in the third on an RBI infield grounder. Yet the Golden Eagles had a 1-0 lead because Shepherd kept getting runners thrown out — most on controversial calls where sliding players were tagged on the shoulders or back.
Finally, in its half of the fifth, Shepherd edged in front, 2-1, when it appeared a big move was in sight . . . but another inning imploded when a runner on first was guilty of not seeing a Ram in front of him stay at third base on a shallow outfield fly and strayed off first base.
Tre Porter and Daniel Heleine had doubles to begin the Shepherd fifth. Heleine’s hit scored Porter. Zane Bard tried to sacrifice Heleine up a base and beat out his bunt. Bryce Shemer singled home Heleine from third, giving the Rams and Driver a 2-1 lead.
There were no outs.
Jacob Carney attempted to sacrifice the runners along and like Bard was safe with a single.
The bases were loaded. There were still no outs. And Shepherd’s lead was just one run.
J.J. Sarty lifted a soft fly to shallow right. Bard did not attempt to score from third. But Carney broke for second base after the catch. The ensuing rundown saw Bard eventually thrown out at the plate as the second out of a double play. When Matt Wilson was out on an infield pop fly, the inning ended with Shepherd still clinging to a skimpy one-run lead.
In the Charleston sixth, Driver fanned two of the 11 strikeout victims he claimed.
The Rams added a run in their half of the sixth when Heleine’s two-out single off the wall in left plated Porter, who had delivered another double.
Driver had a two-run lead going to the last inning.
He struck out two more to complete his route-going seven-hitter (six singles) . . . and improve his record to 4-0.
Shepherd was an impressive 12-2. Charleston was 3-7 in its Mountain East games.
And the teams readied for another doubleheader on Monday, where the sun shone and baseball could be played without anybody watching the sky for more wet weather or walking through standing water in the outfield.