Pansch gets rewarded, Bentley’s gem goes for naught
A second straight day of cold temperatures and a nationally-ranked opponent greeted Shepherd on Sunday in Millersville, Pennsylvania. After dropping two completely different games at home on Saturday, the Rams parlayed the excellent pitching of Ryan Pansch and John Bentley into only a split with the Marauders the next day.
Pansch had a complete game seven-hitter against the highly successful Marauders . . . and he got enough run support to post a win.
It was only Shepherd’s second win of the season, but it did snap an eight game losing skid that began in the south against teams that will in all likelihood reach the NCAA playoffs in May.
With his fastball fully on display in the bees-in-the-bat-handle weather, Pansch was staked to a 3-0 lead in the first when Chase Hoffman drilled a three-run homer.
Millersville began to climb back when it had a two-run first inning. With the count even at 3-3 after five innings, Shepherd scored four runs in the sixth.
Ron Farley, the only Shepherd player with two hits, had a two-RBI single and JJ Sarty drove in a run with his hit. When Brenton Doyle was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, Shepherd had another run.
Pansch blanked the Marauders in the fifth and sixth and yielded only Dan Neff’s solo homer in the seventh to nail down the win.
Bentley pitched just as well or even better than Pansch but all his luck was bad when Millersville’s David Manasek foiled Shepherd with his one-hit pitching over the first seven innings.
Neither team could score in the regulation seven innings. Millersville got the only run it needed in the 1-0 win in the eighth.
Manasek was in complete control as he allowed only one and didn’t walk anybody. He fanned nine before being replaced by Kyle Peterson to begin the Shepherd eighth.
Bentley spaced eight hits and worked around the three walks he allowed. He struck out nine in his seven-plus innings of luckless pitching.
When the game went into extra innings, Peterson came on for the Marauders and retired the Rams in 1-2-3 order.
Bentley had Shepherd’s only other pitching win when his complete game effort against UNC-Pembroke was rewarded.
After four games in two days against the team that finished as the national runner-up (with a 53-7 overall record) in 2016, the Rams are 2-10 while Millersville was 11-4 overall. Shepherd won’t play again until Mar. 15. On Mar. 18, the Rams open Mountain East Conference play with a scheduled doubleheader in Institute against West Virginia State.
The next afternoon, Shepherd stays in the southern part of the state for another conference doubleheader, this one against much-improved Charleston in Charleston.
The next home date for the defending Mountain East Conference champions comes on Saturday, Mar. 25, when Glenville is at Fairfax Field for a league doubleheader.
Pansch and Bentley are very likely to be two of the starting pitchers when the Rams begin their conference schedule with doubleheaders on every weekend through the end of March and all of April.
They both appeared to be armed for the task when the MEC schools come to the schedule and provide some respite from playing the likes of Pembroke, USC-Aiken, West Chester and East Stroudsburg.