SHEPHERDSTOWN— Shepherd completed a doubleheader sweep of Wheeling Jesuit when it batted 10 men in the first inning against Cardinal pitcher Jordan Kraus, scoring six runs, before turning that lead over to pitcher Brandon Coffey. Coffey went four scoreless innings in the Rams’ 8-1 win.
Kraus had pitched 27.1 innings in the 2012 season and his ERA was a spotless 0.00. Shepherd drowned him in a six-run, first-inning deluge. All the runs were earned.
Seven straight batters reached safely against Kraus. After Michael Lott and Aaron Scoville both grounded out, Kraus walked Nathan Minnich on four pitches.
Chad Murphy doubled to the wall in the right field corner. With runners at second and third, Ryan Messina lined a two-run double against the fence in deepest left. Nash Hutter’s line-drive single gave the Rams a 3-0 lead.
Jake Cook drew a walk and Travis Sluger drilled a hard single in front the left-fielder. When the outfielder kicked Sluger’s hit, Hutter scored the fourth run. Bryan DiRosario rammed a two-run triple that was finally stopped by the fence . . . and Shepherd had scored six runs after its first two batters in the opening inning had been retired.
Kraus no longer had a perfect 0.00 ERA. Shepherd had a 6-0 lead that Coffey protected through his four innings of shutout pitching.
By the time Coffey was replaced, the Rams had an 8-0 lead because Hutter had hammered a solo home run and Lott had plated Sluger with an RBI single.
The last three innings saw Shepherd use pitchers Trevor Appleby and Andrew Gallant for one scoreless inning apiece and Byrd for a six-batter, one-run inning.
Coffey’s record was 2-2.
Sluger, who had recently been replaced at third base because his number of hits had dwindled and dwindled, went 3-for-3 and scored twice.
Shepherd collected 11 hits. Hutter also had three hits in going 3-for-4. Messina, Hutter, and DiRosario all had two RBIs.
The two teams were supposed to have a three-game weekend series, but could get in only two because of Saturday’s showers. Shepherd came out of Sunday’s sweep with a 7-4 record the conference’s North Division, good for second place behind only Seton Hill. And the overall record was 14-10. Wheeling Jesuit was 5-6 in the North Division and 10-11 overall.
A huge first inning rally had exploded the ERA of Wheeling Jesuit’s Kraus . . . and had positioned Shepherd in a place where it could reach the WVIAC tournament after failing to qualify for last year’s event.