Mt. Olive sweeps baseball doubleheader from Rams
Shepherd had scheduled a doubleheader and a single game at nationally-ranked Mt. Olive (North Carolina) to open its baseball season.
The teams got in the doubleheader on Saturday with Mt. Olive winning twice by scores of 10-3 and 10-4 and then the single game was cancelled due to “inclement weather” on Sunday.
The Rams — two-time defending regular season champions of the Mountain East Conference — found themselves trailing 7-0 after just one inning of the Saturday’s first game.
Freshman pitcher A.J. Stead was the crown jewel of that game because he pitched six early-season innings and allowed only one hit to a team that had a .312 team batting average in 2015 when it won over 40 games.
J.J. Sarty, who batted well over .400 a year ago as the Rams posted an overall record of 39-12, had three hits in the doubleheader. Christian Hammel was 4-for-7.
Shepherd was limited to six hits in losing a six-run verdict in the nightcap.
The Mountain East Conference has made changes to its overall baseball schedule and format for the 2016 season.
Instead of having all 12 schools vie for six playoff spots by playing a 44-game schedule like was in place in both 2014 and 2015, the conference has divided the dozen teams into a Northern Division and a Southern Division.
Placed in the Northern Division were Shepherd, Notre Dame, Urbana, West Liberty, Wheeling Jesuit and Fairmont. Placed in the Southern Division have been West Virginia State, Concord, Charleston, West Virginia Wesleyan, Glenville and Virginia-Wise.
This season, each school has been given a 32-game league schedule.
The top three finishers in each division will qualify for the six-school MEC tournament to be played again in Beckley during the second week of May.
Shepherd has scheduled playing dates for this weekend — February 13 and 14 — at home at Fairfax Field against Pitt-Johnstown. Both dates are filled with non-conference games. The Saturday starting time is 12-noon and Sunday’s Valentine’s Day start time is 1 p.m.