The West Chester University baseball team lost three out of four games to arch-rival Millersville in a home-and-home doubleheader series this past weekend. In game one at Serpico Stadium Joe Wendle went 2-for-4, but that was not enough as the Maruaders defeated WCU 3-2. In their last at-bat in the seventh inning the Golden Rams loaded the bases with nobody out and trailing on the score board 3-1. WCU was unfortunately only able to drive one runner in.

Jordan Lehman (1-2) pitched a complete game and yielded three runs on five hits, walking three and striking out five. One of the three runs was un-earned due to an error. Even though Lehman picks up the loss, he did not have a bad outing. Millersville did not hit too many balls hard off of Lehman; however, the balls that were hit seemed to find empty spaces.

In game two, West Chester was once again unable to get their bats rolling as they took another loss to Millersville by a score of 4-2. Conor Kerins (0-1) picked up his first loss of the season, allowing three runs, two of them earned, while walking three and striking out three Millersville batters.

In each game on Saturday afternoon, West Chester University was unable to push across more than two runs. Occasionally, at the beginning of the season, the hitters are not as well-prepared for the pitchers. While this is a concern going forward, WCU has too much offensive talent for their bats to remain silent for much longer.

On the warmest day of the year to date, the Golden Rams baseball team opened PSAC play with a split in their doubleheader against Millersville at Marauder Park. In the opener, WCU loaded the bases with nobody out in the fifth inning, but were unable to capitalize as they could only push across one run on a sacrifice fly by Justin Lamborn to pull within one, 4-3.

“The key in any situation, whether it be two outs and no one on or bases loaded and no one out, is to have a quality at bat. It is also true that when a pitcher is having trouble, as hitters we need to be more selective and to see if the pitcher has the ability in that situation to begin to work his way out on his own”, Coach Mark Jackson said.

Matt Zielinski (1-1) gave up four runs in the bottom of the first inning to the Marauders. Despite a shaky first inning, Zielinski was able to settle down and faced just one over the minimum the rest of the way. Overall, he gave up four runs on seven hits, walked one and struck out three. Just four Millersville base runners reached safely after the first inning, two of which were thrown out stealing and another was erased in a double play.

Josh Heyne, Reid Pulford and Joe Wendle got the only hits of game one for the Golden Rams. Pulford finished with two RBI.

WCU was able to rebound and capture the nightcap by a score of 4-0. Freshman Joe Gunkel tossed a complete-game, two-hitter to help West Chester earn their first PSAC win of the young season. Now 2-1 on the season, Gunkel had all of his pitches working in game two, striking out eight and walking just three batters.

“[Joe] did very well throwing strikes and getting his breaking ball over the plate. That formula will be the key to his success this year”, Jackson said.

He struck out Jeff Heisey with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the shutout and clinch the win. Matt Baer hit a three-run homer in the top of the sixth that put the Golden Rams up 4-0. Baer knocked in all four runs, adding a sacrifice fly in the second inning that scored the first run of the game.

Brandon Wolfe reached base three times with a single and a pair of walks. Wolfe also scored one of the four WCU runs.

Before returning home from their Orlando trip on March 12, the Golden Rams were a pedestrian 5-6 in non-conference play. On March 8, West Chester University freshman Chris Pula (Columbus, N.J./North Burlington) was named the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference baseball athlete of the week.

In the first three games of his collegiate career, Pula, hit .857 (6-for-7) with three runs scored, two doubles and five RBI. He had a 1.143 slugging percentage and an .889 on-base percentage for an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of 2.032.

Pula was called off the bench to make his collegiate debut against Concordia-St. Paul (Minn.) on March 5. He delivered a pinch-hit single and later scored during a seven-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning that tied the game and forced extra innings, where the Golden Rams would later win in 10 games.

He started both games in the doubleheader the very next day against Southwest Minnesota State and he made the most of it. Pula was 5-for-6 with five RBI. In game one of the doubleheader, he had the game-winning RBI and knocked in three of WCU’s seven runs.

The Golden Rams baseball team currently holds a record of 6-10 overall and are just 1-3 in the PSAC. Even though it is early, it is surprising that WCU is 0-3 at Serpico Stadium. WCU will look to bounce back at home in a non-conference game on Monday, March 21 as they will host Chestnut Hill at 3:00 p.m.

The Golden Rams will also host a doubleheader against PSAC opponent Bloomsburg on Friday, March 25; games are scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 26 the Golden Rams will travel to Bloomsburg to conclude their home-and-home doubleheader with the Huskies at 1:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Steven Fisher is a fourth-year student majoring in communications. He can be reached at sf674180@wcupa.edu.

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