Shepherd continues ‘conference-busting’ mood
Back in the far-less hostile environment of its Mountain East Conference, Shepherd continued to pillage its rivals.
Moving to 9-1 in conference games, the Rams staggered Virginia-Wise last Thursday at friendly Fairfax Field.
With Joe Rindone riding the wave of consecutive home runs off the bats of JJ Sarty, Chase Hoffman and a rejuvenated Daniel Heleine the Rams won the opener of a doubleheader, 8-1, and then held off a mid-game push by the Highland Cavaliers to get an 11-4 win in the nightcap.
The twin successes boosted Shepherd’s overall record to 11-12 and meant the Rams still had the league’s best record.
Rindone was given a 3-0 lead in the first when Sarty, Hoffman, Heleine and Ron Farley all landed hits.
After three innings, Rindone had a 4-0 lead.
When Sarty, Hoffman and Heleine all homered in the fourth the difference had grown to 7-1.
Rindone was lifted after six innings and showed a pitching line that had five strikeouts, two walks, two hit batsmen, three hits allowed and no earned runs.
Sarty had three hits and three RBIs, Hoffman two hits and two RBIs and Heleine a pair of hits.
The win in the nightcap was anything but another bouncing of a struggling conference opponent.
Virginia-Wise is a team with obvious holes and tears, but the Highland Cavaliers scored twice on walks, an error and winning pitcher AJ Stead’s wild pitch to draw even at 3-3 in the sixth inning of the nine-inning second game.
Stead became the pitcher of record when the Rams regained the precarious lead in their half of the sixth when Brian McCourt had a clutch, two-out hit to drive in Hoffman, who had been hit by a pitch.
Shepherd eased all the pressure by scoring seven times in its next turn.
Brenton Doyle ripped his first home run of the moving-in-the-right-direction season. And Jacob Carney, Sarty, Hoffman and Farley added hits to the uprising as the Rams had 11 base runners in the inning.
Stead went six innings, yielding five hits, walking five and fanning five.
The rain-threatened afternoon had left the Rams with a 9-1 conference mark . . . and had them traveling to Athens for the last league games with a South Division team, Concord the author of an 8-2 league record.