SHEPHERDSTOWN — Conference doubleheaders spaced so closely together can bedevil a coach’s pitching plans. It happened again in the middle of last week when Shepherd wasted three innings of no-hit pitching by first-game starter Davis Hall.
The Rams were playing Charleston on another of a long series of raw and wintry afternoons. Two days afterward, Shepherd had a doubleheader scheduled against North Division leader, West Liberty. And then on Saturday there was a single game slated against the same Hilltoppers.
Interim Shepherd coach Matt McCarty planned to use his most capable pitchers in short stints against the Golden Eagles, a South Division team that was temporarily residing in first place in its half of the WVIAC.
McCarty let Hall go three innings against Charleston with plans to bring him back against West Liberty.
Hall left with a short lead. He would not have been replaced at all if the three games in two days weren’t on Shepherd’s horizon.
Shepherd would lose the game, 3-1, in extra innings. A two-out error in the eighth beat the Rams.
The nightcap was another pitcher-by-committee game for McCarty. He was much more fortunate that time as the Rams had a six-run inning and an eight-run inning in chopping up Charleston’s seven pitchers in achieving a split with a 20-2 win.
After following Hall in the opener with Ryan Pansch and Paul Hvozdovic, McCarty used pitchers Brandon Coffey, Brian Martin and Matt Copley in the breathe-easier, second-game romp.
The Rams had only five hits in their eight turns in the first game and the only one that mattered was Chad Murphy’s solo homer. The first three batters in the Shepherd batting order went a combined 0-for-12.
Hvozdovic was in his third inning of work when a two-out error in the eighth gave Charleston a winning run.
In the second game, Shepherd sent 11 batters to the plate in scoring six runs in the first. With a 12-2 lead in the fifth, 12 Shepherd batters were able to produce another eight runs.
Ryan Messina went 4-for-4. Kyle Porter had three of Shepherd’s 20 hits. Michael Lott got three singles. Porter, Lott, Bryan DiRosario and Mark McCormick each had a three-RBI game. T.J. Weisenburg had two RBIs.
Messina scored four times. Murphy and Tyler Thomas both scored three runs.
Shepherd stayed squarely in the cluttered race for one of the four spots available in the WVIAC tournament for North Division teams. And division-leading West Liberty was coming to Fairfax Field for three games in two days.