Shepherd Pulls Away With Seven-Run Seventh
Winning the first game of a double-elimination tournament can put a team in great position going forward.
Losing can put the opponent in a heap of trouble.
No. 6 Shepherd scored seven runs in the seventh inning to back starter Ryan Pansch’s seven innings of three-run pitching and beat No. 3 Seton Hill, 10-3, in the opening game of the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional at Diethrick Park on Thursday.
“Our last few games we’ve been able to put up big, crooked numbers in the middle and late innings,” Shepherd head coach Matt McCarty said. “Our guys are confident knowing we are always in a ballgame and can expand the lead.”
The win sends the Rams into the winner’s bracket against No. 2 West Chester at 7 p.m. today.
“To get a ‘W,’ it feels good,” McCarty said. “We faced them last year and they put us in the loser’s bracket after Game 1. It feels good to stay in the winner’s bracket.”
The Griffins’ loss puts them in the loser’s bracket with an elimination game against No. 7 Winston-Salem State at 11 a.m. today.
“It changes everything, especially from a pitching standpoint, fatigue standpoint … it’s kind of the worst thing to be in the loser’s bracket,” Seton Hill head coach Marc Marizzaldi said. “The positive is that now you know going forward what type of road you have coming back.”
Seton Hill starter Joey Shaffer kept the Shepherd offense at bay for five-plus innings Thursday, but couldn’t get out of the sixth. With two outs, Rams No. 9 hitter Trenton Burgreen singled past a diving Tyler Sullivan at shortstop. Seton Hill left fielder Ryan Grieco threw out Brandon Kirk at the plate for the second out, but the eventual go-ahead run was on base. The Griffins then turned to left-hander Brian Dabney, who walked the first man he faced. During the at-bat, Burgreen stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Brenton Doyle then grounded to third base for what should’ve been the final out of the inning, but Ryan Wardropper’s throw pulled the first baseman off the bag allowing Burgreen to score and give the Rams a 3-2 lead.
“We like to stay aggressive and keep the pressure on the other team,” Burgreen said. “Our goal every time is to knock the starter out early and get to the bullpen, because we know we can dominate any ‘pen’ in this tournament.”
Dabney walked back-to-back hitters to start the seventh inning and Marizzaldi called on Zack Martinelli from the bullpen. Daniel Heleine greeted Martinelli with an RBI single and Kirk followed with a bunt single before Dalton Haymaker hit a fly ball to left field, which was dropped allowing Ron Farley to score. After a pop out, Jacob Carney hit a two-run single to left field, Doyle hit an RBI single and JJ Sarty capped the scoring with a two-run double for a 10-2 lead.
“If you can get to the bullpen in the early innings of a game … we got there in the middle innings and knocked their starter out … they may use some guys that they might not use all the time,” McCarty said. “It’s a credit to our offense. Our guys battled all day.”
The outburst made a winner of Pansch, who threw seven innings of eight-hit, three-run ball for the Rams. The right-hander struck out four and did not walk a batter.
“It feels great to come out here and win the first game,” Pansch said. “We didn’t capitalize the first three innings, but after that it was just bound to happen.”
Farley led off the fourth inning with a single and stole second base before a pair of strikeouts. Haymaker then walked ahead of Burgreen’s two-run triple to tie the game at 2-all.
“That’s what I work for in the offseason to be in that spot,” Burgreen said. “The guys around me, if I can’t come through, they have my back. That makes it a little easier on me.”
Sam Vilk had an RBI double in the second and an RBI single in the seventh while Sullivan drove in a run with a sacrifice fly for the Griffins.
NOTES: Carney was 3 for 5 with a double, Burgreen had two hits, including a triple, and Farley had two hits for Shepherd. … Mark Colella was a home run shy of the cycle, Vilk had two hits, including a double, and Craig Lewis tripled for Seton Hill. … Shaffer threw 5ª innings, allowing six hits while striking out seven and walking five.