Rams deal Griffins first WVIAC loss

GREENSBURG, Pa.— Seton Hill came into last weekend’s conference games against Shepherd with an unbeaten (6-0) WVIAC record. The Griffins were the 13th-ranked team in the country in NCAA Division II baseball.

On Saturday, Seton Hill comfortably defeated the Rams, 7-3, and 14-6, in a doubleheader that evaporated Shepherd’s winning start to its own conference schedule.

But then on Sunday in a single game, the Rams rallied for three runs in the 10th inning to drop the Griffins, 5-2. By salvaging the Sunday game, Shepherd improved its WVIAC record to 4-3 and shoved its overall mark to 11-9. The 4-3 conference record had the Rams in second place in the seven-school North Division.

In losing, 7-3, Shepherd had 11 hits but stranded eight runners, made four errors, and struck out nine times as a team.

Starting pitcher Brandon Coffey couldn’t get out of the fourth inning.

Nathan Minnich, Nash Hutter, Ryan Messina, and Aaron Scoville all had two hits.

In the 14-6 loss, Shepherd had all four of its pitchers — Justin Byrd, Andrew Gallant, Jamie Driver, and Matt Copley — roughed up by the Griffins.

The Rams committed three errors and left 10 runners on base. Minnich hit his 11th homer of the season while scoring two runs and collecting two RBIs. Coffey and Ryan Messina both had two hits. Michael Lott scored twice.

In winning on Sunday, the Rams used the low-run pitching of Paul Hvozdovic to stay with the Griffins for nine innings. Hvozdovic limited the Griffins to seven hits and one earned run while fanning eight in his nine innings.

Again, Shepherd had to work around four errors and stranded another nine runners.

Minnich’s double had driven in one run and Messina had the other RBI hit in the first nine innings. In the 10th, Lott walked. After Scoville safely legged out what was to be a sacrifice bunt, Minnich hit into a fielder’s choice.

Chad Murphy had a sacrifice fly to give the Rams a 3-2 lead. Messina singled in a run as did Coffey . . . and the lead was at 5-2.

Gallant pitched a scoreless 10th for the Rams for his fifth save of the year. Hvozdovic improved his record to 4-2.

Minnich was selected as the D2BaseballNews.com National Player of the Week for the week of March 14.

After last weekend against Seton Hill, Minnich had moved his batting average to .475 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs. Minnich had 67 total bases and had a 1.098 slugging percentage. In 20 games, he had drawn 23 walks and scored a team-high 25 runs. Shepherd will be back at home at Fairfax Field on Saturday for a 1 p.m. doubleheader against Wheeling Jesuit. A single conference game against the Cardinals on Sunday also has a 1 p.m. start.

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