West Chester Golden Rams baseball took a step backward going 3-4 in a stretch of five days as WCU seesawed between excellence and vulnerability. West Chester led the week at home versus Indiana University of Pennsylvania in a doubleheader. At the onset of the week, West Chester entered ranked No. 18 in Division II baseball only behind Kutztown in the region.
In the first game, the Hawks’ Brian Armour pitched a near flawless 5 and 1/3 innings yielding only three Ram hits. The only run in the game came off an error in the fourth by West Chester reliever Eric Carmichael who came on to relieve Ryan Gerber.
Following Armour, Corey Betts pitched the conclusion of the game sealing the deal 1-0 and picking up the save.
In the second game, IUP came in and continued strong, pitching their starter into the sixth Inning.
Trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning, West Chester’s bats finally heated up and the Hawks’ gloves froze as they committed two errors in the frame.
After Mark Gilliford’s RBI plated shortstop Nick Spisak, Drew Pare, with the bases loaded, doubled home two runs tying the game at 5-5. This set the stage for Kevin McGrath who scored Charlie Kelly after a hot shot to third, resulted in a fielding error. West Chester walked off for the second time at home this season.
On Wednesday, West Chester finally played Shippensburg University at Serpico Stadium after two previous games were cancelled due in part to unplayable field conditions.
West Chester sent pitcher James Rundatz to the mound who pitched an effective six innings yielding only one earned run.
West Chester manufactured four early runs, three off the bat of Matt Cotellese.
However, in the eighth inning Shippensburg loaded the bases with two outs. Due to a West Chester error, Shippensburg’s inning was allowed to continue as they scored seven runs.
In the bottom of that frame, Brandon Wolfe knocked in a run on a single up the middle, but West Chester could not muster anymore offense and ultimately fell 8-5.
On Friday and Saturday, West Chester took on the Mansfield Mountaineers in a four game series split with two games in Mansfield and two in West Chester.
In the first game at Mansfield, Frank Gailey dominantly pitched a wire to wire shutout for his third win the season. Gailey allowed only six hits.
West Chester plated 17 runs in the game behind Gilliford and Spisak who had three hits a piece and McGrath who knocked in three runs.
In the second game, a Mountaineer pitcher would complete the game. Ryan Wyland threw seven innings allowing three earned runs.
The Mountaineers lead early scoring two runs in the third and fourth innings, but the Rams battled back in the top of the sixth with a three run inning behind McGrath’s triple which scored two.
In the bottom of the frame with two runners on base, Cody Stinger smacked a three-run home run to give the Mounties a 7-4 lead, which they would not relinquish.
In the Saturday contests at West Chester, much of the same results occurred.
In the first contest, West Chester sent pitcher Dave Slusser to try to shut down the Mountaineer hitters. In the early inning, Slusser struggled with his command, especially his curveball.
“Make him establish [the curve],” Mounty Head Coach Harry Hillson screamed to his bench in the early innings.
After the Mounties scored a two -spot in the second inning, Slusser settled down and established all of his pitches. Slusser would not allow another run in the contest and shut down eight consecutive Mounties at one point.
“He competed the whole game,” West Chester’s Head Coach Greg Mamula said after the game. “He gave us every chance to win.”
Behind the bats of Gilliford and Kelly, West Chester seized their chances in the first game of the doubleheader 6-2. Gilliford contributed two doubles and scored twice. Kelly hit a two run home run in the sixth to pad the lead to four runs.
In the final game of the doubleheader, West Chester struggled from start to finish from errors, shaky pitching and questionable calls from the umpire.
West Chester starting pitcher Ryan Gerber got rocked in his 2 and 1/3 inning of work for seven run, six of them earned as he struggled with his control.
“Ryan made a few mistakes and left some ball up in the zone, ” Mamula reflected. Mamula pulled Gerber for
After falling down 7-0 after the third, the team gathered and according to Mamula, needed to “chip away at the lead.”
West Chester would lace 10 hits over the distance of the game, but could never muster a strong inning to pull back in serious contention.
In the fourth, West Chester would score two off a double by Pare who went 3-for-4 in the game.
In the sixth, Spisak doubled scoring two and West Chester pulled with three runs, but in the top of seventh inning a debatable balk call on Jason Bowman pickoff move plated a runner.
“I didn’t agree with the call,” Mamula stated. The balk also advanced runners to second and third base, one of which scored on a wild pitch.
West Chester ultimately came up short 9-4 and ended the week 3-4. Currently, West Chester is ranked 18th in the country with an overall 12-5 record. West Chester is 2-2 in division play.
West Chester’s next conference game is scheduled for Saturday April 6 in Bloomsburg for a doubleheader. On Saturday, West Chester comes home to host the same Bloomsburg team in Serpico Stadium for the completion of the four-game