Shepherd completes sweep of Fairmont, is top seed in tourney
As its four-game sweep of Fairmont State was being put in the record books, Shepherd began preparations for the Mountain East Conference baseball tournament in Beckley.
The Rams scored more than one run in the first inning for the eighth straight game as they defeated the Falcons, 13-10 and 12-4, at crowded Fairfax Field. With the doubleheader in hand, Shepherd completed its season with a 35-9 league record and had a 36-10 overall mark.
It was Senior Day on Sunday and the Rams toasted the eight seniors on this 2015 team.
In the opener, Shepherd had a seemingly comfortable eight-run lead after five innings when senior Bryan DiRosario turned the pitching duties over to senior Brian Martin, who got five outs before being replaced by senior Austin Hale. Both Martin and Hale were rudely treated in their last appearances at Fairfax Field. Hale finally retired the sixth batter he saw in the seventh inning — getting the last out after five men had reached safely against him.
Shepherd’s earlier 13-5 lead had been provided by the potent offense.
Jacob Carney was 3-for-4, J.J. Sarty went 1-for-2 and was on base three times and Matt Wilson had a grand slam home run.
Spencer Wolfe was 1-for-1 with three RBIs and two runs scored, and Dom Wyshinski went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs. Wolfe and Wyshinski are seniors.
DiRosario improved his record to 8-1.
In the nightcap, the Rams collected 10 hits but made four errors.
Carney had still another 3-for-4 game and drove in two runs, Sarty was 1-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs.
Wilson went 3-for-3 with four runs scored and two RBIs, and Wolfe was 2-for-3 with four RBIs.
Left-hander John Bentley improved his record to 5-2, leaving after six fruitful innings where he allowed just four hits while fanning six and yielding just one earned run.
After winning its second consecutive conference regular-season title, the Rams will be the #1 seed in the double elimination conference tournament that runs from May 7 through May 10 in Beckley. In its tournament opener Shepherd faced #6 seed West Virginia Wesleyan.
The other first-round games had #2 seed West Virginia State facing #5 seed Concord and #3 seed Notre Dame (Ohio) playing #4 seed West Liberty.
Since the Mountain East Conference is only in its second year of existence the tournament winner does not receive an automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA Division II Atlantic Region tournament. However, Shepherd did receive an Atlantic Region tournament bid in 2014 because its regular-season record was worthy enough.
The Rams enter the conference tournament as the #5 ranked team in the Atlantic Region and six teams get invitations to the Atlantic Regional, which is part of the NCAA Division II’s national tournament.