SHEPHERDSTOWN— Wheeling Jesuit had the game’s first home run. In fact, the Cardinals had the game’s first three runs.
But Shepherd had Nathan Minnich’s two-run homer . . . and the game’s last 10 runs as the Rams made the most of a five-run fourth inning to win the WVIAC baseball game, 10-3.
After having a scheduled doubleheader on Saturday washed away, the Rams and Cards set up a North Division twinbill that should prove to be important in the conference’s final standings.
Prior to Sunday’s games, Shepherd was positioned in second place in the North Division. But the Rams were just one game over .500 in the standings. Wheeling Jesuit was also just a game over .500. And the league’s rules call for the first four teams in the seven-team division to make the WVIAC tournament, an event that gives the conference its champion.
Trailing, 3-0, after Robbie Davia had crashed a two-run home run off Shepherd starter Paul Hvozdovic and Patrick Ammar had doubled in a run in the first inning, the Rams rebounded with Minnich’s long two-run blast in the first to bring them right back.
When Bryan Rosario lofted a drive that carried out just inside the foul pole, the Rams had made it 3-3.
It could have been more but there had been five runners stranded in the first two turns.
After the near-disastrous first, Hvozdovic began to have some success with both his pitches and threw strikes at the Cardinals. With considerable help from his defense he weathered more trouble in the third. Jake Cook made a diving catch in left field and outfielder Aaron Scoville threw out Andrew Nemecek at the plate when he collected Jordan Medley’s single and threw a strike to catcher Ryan Messina. Hvozdovic had been nicked for six hits in three innings, but the game was still even at 3-3.
A five-run Shepherd fourth became the game’s deciding factor.
Minnich’s double scored Scoville, who had walked. Chad Murphy followed with a run-scoring double. After Nash Hutter had a single, it was Coffey driving in two more Shepherd runs with a double he rifled into the left field corner. Coffey scored on an infield error. And the Rams had assumed an 8-3 lead with most of the scoring damage done against reliever Parker Lang.
Just to make things easier for one-inning reliever Justin Byrd, the Rams used Scoville’s triple, Minnich’s fourth RBI, and Coffey’s RBI hit that scored Messina to move in front, 10-3.
Hvozdovic went six innings and allowed seven hits while walking none. He fanned four and improved his record to 5-2.
Shepherd had trumped Wheeling Jesuit’s 3-0 lead by scoring the game’s last 10 runs and overcoming leaving 10 baserunners stranded in its six turns.