SHEPHERDSTOWN — When West Liberty came to Shepherd’s Fairfax Field for a three-game Easter Weekend series, the Hilltoppers had a 10-1 conference record and the Rams were still reeling from having to forfeit meaningful games for the second straight season.
When Friday’s free fall was over for the Hilltoppers, they had been stoned by the Rams, not once but twice, as Shepherd collected handsome 14-1 and 11-0 wins to sweep a WVIAC doubleheader.
In the 14-1 opener, the Rams had scored 11 runs in the fifth to quickly expand a 3-1 lead that had been protected by its starting pitcher, Paul Hvozdovic.
Three Shepherd players had two hits in the breakaway inning. Ryan Messina homered and singled, Jake Cook had a triple and a double and Michael Lott contributed two singles. All three of them scored two runs in the inning that produced 15 batters.
Shepherd finished the rollicking win with 13 hits, including Kyle Porter’s solo homer, three singles from Mark McCormick and two singles and two RBIs from Brandon Coffey.
While the scores appeared to be the product of overwhelming hitting by the Rams, both games were replete with outstanding baserunning by Shepherd. Taking extra bases against the West Liberty outfielders became commonplace. Stealing bases was helpful. Going from first-to-third, from first-to-home and second-to-home was almost automatic for the take-advantage Rams.
Hvozdovic evened his record at 4-4. He went six innings.
In the nightcap, Shepherd right-hander Davis Hall mastered the Hilltopper lineup, spacing two hits and walking only one in five innings of fooling the visitors.
Hall was provided with plenty of run support as his teammates scored at least once in each of the first five innings.
A 3-0 lead was quickly sent to 6-0 after only three turns. Messina had a first-inning RBI, Cody Bumbaugh added a solo homer, and McCormick lifted a three-run homer to left.
A four-run Shepherd inning followed and had the Rams romping along with a 10-0 lead. Walks and hit batsmen fueled the last uprising, and Lott and Messina had RBI singles.
There were 10 hits in all. Lott homered in the fifth. Lott, Cook and Messina each contributed two hits. Lott, Cook, Murphy and Bumbaugh each scored two runs.
Hall improved his record to 4-2 and lowered his ERA to 3.26.
Shepherd had (1) slugged, (2) pitched and (3) run its way to an impressive doubleheader sweep of North Division-leading West Liberty.
Scoring a combined 25 runs sent the Rams to a stable position in the North Division of the league where the top four teams qualify for the WVIAC tournament. Shepherd is the defending conference champion, having won the 2012 tournament held in Johnstown, Pa.