Fri. Jan 28th, 2022

The West Chester baseball team continues to dominate their opponents, as they stretched their win streak to 15 games with a double header sweep of East Stroudsburg on Tuesday.

The Rams, who at one point last week were ranked No.2 in all the nation for DII teams, defeated their PSCA rivals 7-3 and 9-5 Saturday, pushing their overall record to 20-1.

West Chester once again jumped out to an early lead in game 1, capitalizing on a costly pair of errors by ESU second baseman Ryan Guarino. With Provine on second after a one-out double, Joe Wendle hit a ball on the ground to second base but Guarino mishandled the ball, allowing Wendle to reach first, then threw the ball away allowing Wendle to advance to second and Provine to score.

Justin Lamborn then singled, knocking in Wendle, and Matt Baer put the capper on the four run inning two batters later when he doubled to score Lamborn and Jordan Wlodarczyk. All four of the runs were unearned.

ESU began to mount a comeback in the second inning, scoring twice in the frame, but West Chester came right back in the third, scoring three more runs and taking a commanding 7-2 lead.

Wendle got the inning started with a single, and scored one out later when Lamborn ripped a double down the left field line. Later in the inning, with two men out and Lamborn and Matt Baer on the corners, ESU’s Guarino made his third error of the game on a ground ball from Josh Heyne. The error allowed Lamborn to score, and then Chris Pula singled to plate Baer. Of West Chester’s seven runs in the game, six were unearned.

Lamborn finished the game 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI, and Baer went 1-for-2 with a walk, a run scored, and two RBI. The two RBI from Baer brought him to a total of 6 RBI in his last two games.

“Matt Baer has had some great at bats this season and he has come through with some game changing extra base hits for us. Matt has been locked in since our first day in the fall. He plays with a lot of energy,” said head coach Jad Prachniak said.

On the mound Joe Gunkel held ESU in check for the entire game, throwing all seven innings and finishing with a solid line of 7H, 3R (2 ER), 4 BB, 4K. The win put Gunkel to 3-0 on the season, and lowered his ERA to an impressive 2.88.

“Getting a complete game from Gunkel to start the weekend is great for us,” Prachniak said. “Joe does a good job of challenging hitters and allowing our team to play defense behind him, he did walk a season high four guys but he was able to work around that and finish the game. He has good stuff on the mound and he competes really well.”

Whereas the 7-3 victory in game 1 featured mostly offense generated from errors, game 2 was pure production. The Rams rapped out nine runs on 10 hits en route to a 9-5 win and sweep of East Stroudsburg.

East Stroudsburg struck first in the game, capitalzing on an error and an errant pickoff attempt to score twice in the first inning. Their lead was very short lived, however.

Raimo doubled to lead off the first, then advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a balk. Jack Provine followed with a single, which brought up Wendle with one man on and nobody out. Wendle did exactly what he has been doing all year. He crushed the offering deep to right field and over the fence for a two-run homer, his eighth of the season, putting West Chester on top 3-2. Wendle added another RBI in the second inning on a single that scored Mike Raimo to make it 4-2.

In 21 games now, Wendle has eight homeruns, which is only three less than the entire team had combined in the 2011 season.

A lot of credit must go to the top of the order, however, who continue to get on base and give Wendle the chance to drive the runs in. In the doubleheader, Provine was 4-for-4 in the game, and Raimo reached base in three of his four at bats.

“Provine in the two-hole and Raimo at leadoff continue to do a great job of setting things up for us offensively. They will often work a count full and foul off some pitches, creating a seven or eight pitch at bat which can be draining for an opposing pitcher,” Prachniak said.

East Stroudsburg did tie the game at four in the third, but West Chester then exploded for both a run in the third and fourth, and three runs in the sixth to take the lead for good.

Fred Breidenbach struggled a bit on the mound, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits in his five innings of work, but Kyle Weary came on in relief and shut down the Warriors. Weary entered when the game was still close, and did not allow a hit for the final two innings while the offense took charge and propelled WCU to a 9-5 win.

“Weary did a good job of getting the last six outs in game 2. He gives the opposition a different look with his delivery and usually gets a lot of ground balls and soft contact.”

As has been the story all season, West Chester’s bats were live in the 9-5 defeat of ESU. Wendle led the offense, going 2-for-2 with two walks, a homer, and three RBI, and Josh Heyne also added two hits, and three RBI in four trips to the plate. Matt Kirchner and Chris Pula each added an RBI as well.

West Chester now sits at 20-1 on the season with a perfect 6-0 conference record. Surely they have seen their name climb as high as No.2 on the NCAA polls during this stretch, but it is not something they are giving any thought at this time. They just want to focus on each day and keep winning games.

“We are aware of the polls, but those polls have nothing to do with the task at hand on any given day,” Prachniak said. “Whether it is a practice or a game, our expectations are that everyone will compete at a high level with consistent focus and effort.”

Kenny Ayres is a second-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at KA739433@wcupa.edu.

 

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