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WISE, Va. (March 2) – The Shepherd baseball program has responded to a tough road-trip to open the season earlier this month by winning five of six games this past week.
After losing three straight to ranked opponents during a tournament in early February in Aiken, S.C., the Rams swept a doubleheader against Virginia State and later won three-of-four at Virginia-Wise.
Shepherd, which was picked to finish second this season in the Mountain East Conference by the league coaches, received strong hitting and sound pitching during both of its outings Feb. 25 at Virginia State.
The Rams then relied on a similar combination of consistent hitting and key pitching March 1-2 to win three-of-four against Mountain East Conference rival Virginia-Wise.
On Feb. 25 in Ettrick, Va., Shepherd posted 25 hits as the Rams gained victories of 12-1 and 11-1 against Virginia State. Senior designated hitter Ryan Messina went 3-for-3, drove in four runs, and scored three in game one. He also stole a pair of bases.
Junior outfielder Matt Wilson added a 3-for-4 effort with an RBI, while junior catcher Spencer Wolfe had a 2-for-2 effort with four runs scored and an RBI.
Sophomore starter Sam Crater (3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 Ks, 0 BB) picked up the win.
Crater went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI to pace the Rams in the nightcap.
Senior outfielder Kyle Porter added a 2-for-2 outing with four stolen bases and a pair of RBIs, while Wolfe went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer.
Sophomore pitcher Jamie Driver (4.0 IP, 2H, 0 R, 5 Ks, O BB) notched the win in the nightcap.
On March 1 in Wise, Va., Shepherd swept Virginia-Wise with victories of 7-0 in the first game and 1-0 in the nightcap.
Junior second baseman Bryce Shemer singled home freshman Jacob Carney in the fifth inning in game one to break a scoreless tie.
Carney added a three-run double in the sixth to help the Rams take control of the contest.
Senior designated hitter Ryan Messina went 2-for-3 to lead the Rams.
Senior pitcher Paul Hvozdovic (6.0 IP, 2 H, 6 Ks, 1 BB) picked up his first win of the year to improve to 1-0. Wise starter Caleb Daniels (0-3) took the loss.
Senior outfielder Kyle Porter scored the game’s only run in the third inning in the nightcap. He reached on a walk and moves to second when senior outfielder Michael Lott was thrown out on a double steal attempt. Porter moved to third on a fly out and scored on a wild pitch.
Shemer went 2-for-3 to lead the Rams.
Sophomore pitcher Ryan Pansch (6.0 IP, 5H, 9 Ks, 0 BB) (1-1) gained the win, while sophomore reliever Sam Crater (1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 K, 0 BB) picked up the save.
On Sunday, March 2 in Wise, Va., Shepherd split with Virginia-Wise, as the Cavaliers won game one 8-5 and the Rams took game two 14-6.
The Rams smacked 13 hits en route the nightcap win.
Shepherd used a 10-run third inning to take control of the game. Senior designated hitter Ryan Messina belted a three-run homer, while senior shortstop T.J Weisenburg and senior outfielder Michael Lott each had two-run singles to highlight the scoring outburst.
Lott went 3-for-4 with five RBIs and a run scored and Messina was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored to pace the Rams.
Sophomore pitcher Sam Crater (4.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 Ks, 0 BB) (2-1) picked up the win for the Rams.
Shepherd took a 3-1 lead in the third inning in game one. Junior second baseman Bryce Shemer had a two-run double to highlight the inning.
After the Cavaliers added a run in the fourth, they took the lead for good with four runs on four hits in the fourth.
Lott went 2-for-4 with a solo homer and two runs scored to lead the Rams. Shemer and freshman Jacob Carney each added a pair of hits. – Jeff Brammer