Stead wins fourth straight, Rams sweep Fairmont SU
AJ Stead pitched six useful innings without issuing a walk, and Shepherd scored early and often in the nightcap of Sunday’s doubleheader sweep of visiting Fairmont State. Stead was winning his fourth straight decision, and Shepherd was completing the regular season portion of its schedule with another 7-1 win over the Fighting Falcons.
The Rams took a 28-21 overall record and 24-8 conference mark into this week’s league tournament in Beckley.
Stead evened his record at 5-5, going the first six innings while yielding six hits and no walks.
Chase Hoffman and Ron Farley had RBIs in the Rams’ two-run first.
Farley would raise his batting average to .299 with two doubles and single in three at-bats.
Brandon Kirk continued a late-season surge by going 2-for-3 and driving in two runs. A month ago, Kirk was mired in a season-long slump that saw his average well below .200, but going into this week’s league tournament has moved his average to .292.
Stead was removed after six robust innings and three relievers finished the nine-inning game.
Shepherd has the No.1 seed in the Mountain East Conference tournament, having the best record among the six teams entered in the tournament. From the North Division are Shepherd, West Liberty and Fairmont State and from the South Division are Concord, Charleston and West Virginia Wesleyan.
The tournament champion receives an automatic bid to next week’s Atlantic Regional. The bulk of the Atlantic Regional field will come from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference where Mercyhurst, West Chester, Shippensburg, Millersville and Seton Hill have been the flag bearers in 2017. That is a double-elimination tournament leading directly to the NCAA Division II College World Series.
Shepherd had 2-0 records this season against both Concord and Charleston and a 1-1 record against West Virginia Wesleyan. The Rams were 4-0 against West Liberty and split four games with Fairmont State.
The championship game of the Mountain East Conference tournament is scheduled for Sunday, May 14.
The site of the Atlantic Regional will be determined after the PSAC tournament and will almost surely be held somewhere in Pennsylvania. Mercyhurst is the top-ranked team in the Atlantic Region.