West Chester’s baseball squad lost their weekend series to PSAC East opponent Shippensburg three games to one and now hold a record of 13-14 overall and are just 5-7 in PSAC play. WCU split their Saturday doubleheader with Shippensburg at Serpico Stadium, losing game one 8-7, but winning the nightcap 13-5. The Golden Rams lit up Shippensburg’s starter for seven runs in the first three innings of game one. WCU’s Chris Pula went 4-for-4 with a bases-clearing double in the first inning of game one.
The Raiders were able to score three runs in the first and second to keep the score close. After a game tying RBI-single in the fifth, SU took the lead in the sixth with a sacrifice fly by sophomore Sam Phillips.
Shippensburg’s Josh Scott came on in relief in the second inning and quieted the Golden Rams’ bats that had erupted early in the game. Brent Roehrich (2-1) suffered the loss, facing three batters in the sixth inning and allowing just one unearned run. Joe Gunkel started and lasted just five innings. He gave up 10 hits, walked two and struck out four Raiders.
In game two of Saturday’s doubleheader, Jordan Lehman (2-3) earned the win, giving up two runs on three hits in three innings of work. He relieved starter Conor Kerins, who went the first three innings. Kerins had a good outing as he continues to progress from having Tommy John surgery last season.
Joe Wendle smashed a three-run homer in the bottom of the third that gave WCU their first lead, 5-3. Wendle was 1-for-3 in game two, and now has three homers on the season. Jack Provine was 2-for-4 with four RBI, including a double and a triple. Reid Pulford went 2-for-3, and Brandon Wolfe finished the doubleheader going 4-for-5 at the plate. Not to be outdone by Wolfe, Chris Pula was a combined 6-for-8 on Saturday.
The Golden Rams lost both PSAC East games at Shippensburg on Friday, April 1. WCU lost game one by a score of 8-4, and game two 6-5. The Golden Rams battled back in game two and were able to tie things up at 5-5 in the top of the seventh. They were then unable to hold off Shippensburg as they scored the game-winning run in the bottom half of the inning with one out.
Wendle reached base on a fielding error by Ship’s second basemen in the seventh and eventually came around to score on a one-out single to right field by Reid Pulford.
Ben Miller doubled for Ship with one out in their half of the seventh and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Tyler Uphouse knocked in Miller for the game-winning run to complete the sweep of WCU.
Raimo tied the game at three with a two-run single in the fourth inning. Shippensburg put two runs on the board in the bottom half of the inning to go back up by two runs. Brandon Wolfe went 2-for-3 with an RBI while shortstop Dylan Zigman was 2-for-2 with a run knocked in.
Anthony Clemens (2-2) went the distance on the mound for WCU. He gave up six runs, four of them earned, on nine hits. Clemens walked three and struck out eight Shippensburg batters. Kody Kibler pitched the seventh for the Raiders to pick up the win.
Matt Baer looked like his old self, going 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI in the opener. Matt Zielinski started game one for WCU and struggled in the opening inning. Zielinski gave up eight runs total, six of which were scored in the first inning. Yet again WCU got up off the mat and made it 6-4 at the end of two. Baer hit a bases loaded single that drove in two during a three-run second.
“The team did show heart in coming back at both games against Shippensburg,” head coach Mark Jackson said. “Our goal is to play the game hard pitch by pitch so that we are in a position to be creating momentum all the time in a game. Most baseball teams wait for something positive to happen instead of making something positive happen by constant pressure. We are still trying to get better at playing the game pitch-by-pitch.”
The Raiders managed to drive in two more runs in the fourth to push their lead to four. Overall Zielinski gave up eight runs on nine hits in just four innings. He struck out three and walked two Raiders. John Barr finished up with two scoreless innings on two hits.
Tom Bush (5-0) was impressive for the Raiders as he pitched a complete game.
WCU advanced to the Bill Giles championship with a dominant performance over visiting Philadelphia University on Wednesday, March 30. The Golden Rams hit early and often as they piled up 22 runs on 20 hits, including three home runs. The 22-7 victory over Philadelphia University was the largest margin win for WCU this season.
The Bill Giles championship game will be played on April 12 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Over the past three years the four-team Division II tournament has been captured by West Chester. Philadelphia University’s record falls to 2-14 on the season. Oddly enough, the Golden Rams scored 20 of their 22 runs with two outs, putting up three runs in the fifth, nine in the sixth, three in the seventh and five more in the eighth.
Kristian Von Kiel hit a monster three-run homer in the sixth inning while Provine did the same in the eighth stanza, followed by a solo shot from leftfielder Baer. Provine finished the day 2-for-3 with six RBI. Wendle went 2-for-3 with five RBI and three runs scored, including a bases loaded triple in the fifth that broke open a 2-1 ballgame.
Raimo went 4-for-5 with three runs scored from his lead-off position in the order. Baer accumulated four hits with five RBI.
Zigman went 3-for-4 with three runs scored. Dylan Porter (2-2) evened his record with the win over Philadelphia University. He tossed 7.1 innings of three-hit ball. He gave up just three runs, only two of which were earned, while striking out seven batters.
With their offense struggling to stay consistent in the previous weeks, WCU took full advantage of a less-talented team in Philadelphia University.
Through the first 27 games of the season, Coach Jackson has juggled his lineup and batting order on a consistent basis to try and find a combination that consistently works.
“We are in search of the best possible team on the field. Injuries and statistics play a role in determining the lineup,” Jackson said.
With half of the season over, Coach Jackson and his club must recapture their winning ways if they want to make a run at another PSAC East title. The preseason coaches’ poll selected WCU to finish second in the PSAC East. Currently the Golden Rams sit in fifth place, but with a strong finish they are still capable of catching East Stroudsburg and Millersville.
The Golden Rams will be back in action on Monday, April 4 when they will travel to Philadelphia to face Chestnut Hill in a non-conference tilt. On Friday, April 8, they will make their way north to visit East Stroudsburg in a PSAC East doubleheader.
Games start at 1:00 and 3:30 p.m. Local fans can watch WCU at Serpico Stadium on Saturday, April 9 as they will conclude their home-and-home doubleheader series with the Warriors at 1:00. and 3:30 p.m.
Steven Fisher is a fourth-year student majoring in communications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.