Shepherd welcomes MEC games with four wins
Was it the rigorous non-conference schedule Shepherd was finally finished playing?
Was it getting into the Mountain East Conference meat of its schedule that brought the Rams last weekend’s good fortune?
Maybe it was the long trip to Kanawha County that was the elixir the Rams needed to shake the rust of a 13-day layoff and grinding slate of games against several southern giants.
Once facing West Virginia State and Charleston in consecutive doubleheaders, the Rams put their 2-10 non-conference record in some closed closet and romped to a 4-0 weekend record.
Last Saturday in Institute, the Rams swept usual strongboy West Virginia State, 7-5 and 10-1, to open their conference schedule.
Brian McCourt and Daniel Heleine both went 3-for-4 as the Rams used the five-inning pitching of Joe Rindone to top the Yellowjackets, 7-5.
Heleine had a solo homer and the Rams moved from only a 5-4 lead to a 7-4 cushion with a two-run sixth-inning rally.
Ryan Simpson had a two-inning save.
In the 10-1 win in the nightcap, AJ Stead went eight innings and allowed only one hit. He fanned six and walked five. It was Stead’s first win of the season.
Brandon Kirk had a solo homer and then in a seven-run ninth inning JJ Sarty drilled a three-run home run, Heleine a two-run shot and Ron Farley a solo homer.
Carney was 4-for-5, Sarty 3-for-4 and Brenton Doyle 2-for-5.
The next afternoon against Charleston, Shepherd had 5-1 and 12-4 wins over a Golden Eagle team that had a 10-3 non-conference record.
Ryan Pansch muzzled the Golden Eagles in Shepherd’s 5-1 victory in the opener. Pansch improved his record to 2-0 and went six innings while allowing six hits and two walks while fanning seven.
Dalton Haymaker went 3-for-3 and Heleine was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.
John Bentley was the winning pitcher in the 12-4 success. Bentley went the first seven innings to improve his record to 2-3. He yielded seven hits, did not walk a batter and fanned four.
It was only a 4-3 Shepherd lead until the Rams erupted for five runs in the eighth and added three more runs in the ninth.
Heleine homered, Kirk had a two-run shot and catcher Joe Burack went 3-for-4 in a reserve role. Doyle scored three runs and was 2-for-4.
Heleine was 2-for-5 and Carney chipped in with two RBIs.
The Rams are at home this weekend for conference doubleheaders on both Saturday and Sunday. Glenville provides the opposition on Saturday in the 1 p.m. twinbill and then West Virginia Wesleyan is at Fairfax Field for Sunday’s 1 p.m. doubleheader.
The images of the early-season losses at UNC-Pembroke, South Carolina-Aiken and to Millersville, West Chester and East Stroudsburg were mostly gone . . . and the MEC teams were on the horizon . . . and already beaten four times in four tries.