Fresh off a record setting season, the West Chester University baseball team suffered a pair of losses on Saturday to begin the 2006 campaign. The Golden Rams played host to Bryant University at frozen Serpico Stadium, where they lost the season opener 5-3, and dropped the second game, 8-7. West Chester’s baseball team is now 0-2 after a disappointing weekend against the Bulldogs of Bryant University, whose record is now 2-9.
Maybe it was the cold temperatures, or the bitter winds, but it took a while for the Golden Rams offense to heat up. Bryant took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but West Chester responded with a run of their own when Drew Pare singled to score John Molyneux from third. West Chester was limited to only five hits in the first game, including a solo home run by catcher Brett Wallace in the bottom of the fourth inning to cut Bryant’s lead to only two runs at 4-2.
In the bottom of the eighth, John Molyneux knocked Sean Bond in from third base on a fielders choice, but the Ram’s last offensive threat would end there, losing the game 5-3. Frank Gailey took the loss for West Chester, surrendering four runs on five hits in seven innings of pitching.
Saturday afternoon’s encore started with a bang, as Bryant University led off the second game with a solo home run, scoring the first of their two runs in the top of the first. West Chester responded in the bottom of the second, scoring three runs off a series of hits.
The Golden Rams took a two run lead into the top of the eighth, but a two out double by Bryant sparked a three run rally to take over the lead. West Chester’s offense was unable to overcome Bryant’s late inning charge, losing their second game of the afternoon, 8-7.
While the players are disappointed with the season opener, they still expect a successful 2006 campaign.
“It’s still only February,” said back-up catcher, Eric Pearlman. “We still have things to work on, especially after today. The other team’s pitching was average, but we missed a lot of opportunities. We need to stay aggressive at the plate and we’ll be alright.”
Last year’s Golden Rams started their record season 2-6, but went on to win 36 of their last 44 games, ending the 2005 campaign with a 38-14 record. Despite finishing in second place last year in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and in the NCAA Division II North Atlantic Region, the Golden Rams were the first West Chester team in 20 years to win a Division II playoff game, and won five games in postseason play under first year head coach Matt Brainard.
For the fourth straight season, the Golden Rams reset their all-time mark for wins in a single season, harboring a 17-3 record in the Eastern Division of the PSAC in 2005, and its second divisional title in the past three seasons.
Last season’s pitching staff of Kyle Frees, Jeff Brennan and Justin Hanley combined for a record of 23-8 including 191 strikeouts. Unfortunately, all of those players graduated after last season. West Chester’s hope to repeat their success of 2005 will rely heavily on the leadership of returning players who hope to continue the winning tradition at WCU.
The Golden Rams will travel to Institute, WV, next weekend for a double headers against the team that knocked them out of the NCAA Division II North Atlantic Region last year, West Virginia State University. West Chester hopes to bounce back after a disappointing opening weekend. The Golden Rams next home game is not until March 18.