Rams win three straight and WVIAC baseball title

JOHNSTOWN, Pa.— After losing its first game in the WVIAC baseball tournament, Shepherd rebounded to win its final two games in pool play and then defeated Alderson-Broaddus, 10-5, in the event’s championship game.

In winning the conference championship, the Rams received an automatic berth in this week’s NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional tournament being held in Kutztown, Pa.

The Rams entered the WVIAC eight-team event as the third-place finisher in the North Division.

Shepherd celebrates its WVIAC tournament championship in the aftermath of the team’s 10-5 win over Alderson-Broaddus. The Rams are in Regional play this week.

After dropping its first game in round robin pool play to Charleston, the Rams were able to defeat Seton Hill, 7-6, in their next game.

Nash Hutter’s two-run single gave the Rams a 2-0 lead in the first. With 10-game winner Paul Hvozdovic holding the Griffins in check, Shepherd eventually had a 5-1 lead in the seventh inning.

Seton Hill scored a run in the seventh. Andrew Gallant replaced Hvozdovic after seven. Seton Hill rallied for four runs in the top of the ninth to assume a 6-5 lead.

Michael Lott led the Shepherd ninth with a bunt single. Aaron Scoville then reached with his bunt single. Both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch . . . and Nathan Minnich was walked intentionally.

Chad Murphy grounded into a force play at the plate.

Hutter then rammed a double to right-center with both Scoville and Minnich scoring . . . and Shepherd winning, 7-6.

Scoville and Hutter both had three hits.

After two days of games, all eight teams in the tournament had 1-1 records.

On the third day, Shepherd had to beat West Virginia State and Seton Hill had to beat Charleston for Shepherd to win its pool.

Seton Hill beat Charleston. And Shepherd scored eight runs in the seventh inning to stop the Yellow Jackets, 13-6.

Shepherd relief pitcher Trevor Appleby went the final five innings to get credit for the win. He allowed five hits and a walk and one earned run to improve his record to 7-3.

The Rams had 18 hits with Minnich going 3-for-3. Ryan Messina and Jake Cook both had three-hit games. Bryan DiRosario, Lott, and Scoville all had two-hit games.

In Shepherd’s eight-run inning, Scoville walked and Minnich was hit by a pitch to begin the uprising. Murphy bunted for a hit to load the bases. Cook’s single scored the first run and left the bases loaded.

Messina was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. DiRosario’s single plated the inning’s fourth and fifth runs.

After Sluger stole third and DiRosario second, Lott singled both home for an 11-5 Shepherd lead. Minnich was intentionally walked again and Murphy was hit by a pitch. Hutter walked with the bases loaded to force in a run.

Alderson-Broaddus won the tiebreaker in the other pool with its 2-1 record. The Battlers joined Shepherd in the championship game.

Gallant was Shepherd’s starting pitcher. He blanked the Battlers for four innings as Shepherd took a 6-0 lead. Minnich’s double scored two runs in the first and Hutter’s sacrifice fly made it 3-0.

In the Rams’ third, Messina hit the first of his two two-run homers as Shepherd went in front, 6-0. After yielding three runs in the fifth, Gallant was replaced by Matt Copley. Shepherd’s lead was 8-3 after Messina’s second two-run homer.

Copley couldn’t get out of the sixth as the Battlers closed to within 8-5.

Hvozdovic replaced Copley and got out of the inning.

In the Shepherd eighth, the Rams extended the lead to 10-5 when Lott had a bunt single and then stole second. Lott went to third as the catcher’s throw went into centerfield. Scoville walked, but Lott was later out at the plate trying to score on a pitch that eluded the Battler catcher.

Minnich was walked intentionally. Scoville scored when Murphy hit into a fielder’s choice. Hutter’s RBI single made it a 10-5 game.

After Hvozdovic allowed two singles into the ninth, he was able to retire the game’s last out on a grounder to Minnich at first.

Brandon Coffey had a solo homer for the Rams. Minnich and Hutter had driven in two runs and Messina’s homers were worth four RBIs.

Gallant improved to 6-3 and Hvozdovic’s save was his second.


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