Early leads help keep pressure off Rams
As its season came down to eight home games at Fairfax Field, a preferred trend was crafted by Shepherd’s baseball team. Stagger the opposition with scoring in the first inning . . . and usually add more runs as the game drifts on until its close.
After seeing a once prosperous conference lead over West Virginia State shrivel to only one game, the Rams came home to Shepherdstown to complete the regular season with four games against Urbana and four more against Fairmont State.
Shepherd dismissed Urbana in four straight games where it scored at least two runs in the first inning of every game. This past Saturday on a perfect day for two games the Rams kept that savory trend going by scoring at least two runs in the opening inning of both games against Fairmont State . . . and saw the welcomed sun set on 7-0 and 10-2 victories over the Falcons.
In the 7-0 win, pitcher Sam Crater had a 4-0 lead after only one inning, and he sailed through the Fairmont lineup while allowing only one hit and fanning seven. Crater improved his record to 10-2 and would be an important figure when the Rams opened Mountain East Conference tournament play yesterday (May 7) in Beckley.
Spencer Wolfe and Daniel Heleine had cashed two-RBI hits in the first inning to stake Crater to his early lead.
All but one of the Shepherd batters had at least one hit, including J.J. Sarty who went 4-for-4 with three RBIs and a two-run home run. Matt Wilson was on base four times, added to his league-leading runs-scored total and was 2-for-2.
In the nightcap, the Rams pushed across two runs in the first and then added three more in the second to grab a 5-0 lead for pitcher Jamie Driver.
Sarty had a 3-for-4 game going before striking out in the anticlimactic sixth inning. He drove in two runs to join Wilson and Tre Porter as Shepherd hitters with multi-RBI games.
Wilson was hit four times by pitches in the combined games, shoving his “hit by pitch” total to 28 for the season.
The Rams had 22 baserunners in the nightcap, scoring 10 times despite stranding 12 runners on base.
Even though West Virginia State swept its doubleheader against Charleston, the Rams remained three games in front of the Yellowjackets.
The Rams had become trendy. And scoring in the first inning is a trend that makes winning much easier.