West Chester University’s baseball team opened up their 2010 season with an 8-5 win over LeNoir-Rhyne at Bears Field in Hickory, North Carolina.Senior catcher Bob Stumpo came through for WCU with a two-out clutch hit that plated two Golden Rams in the top of the eighth inning. The game was tied at 5-5 in the eighth as WCU came up to the plate.
Lenoir-Rhyne walked the bases loaded with nobody out. Freshman right fielder Christian Cox reached base on a fielder’s choice, scoring Josh Heyne from third, putting WCU up 6-5. Kevin McGrath made it to third on the play, and Nick Spisak was forced at second for the first out of the inning.
Cox stole second while Charlie Kelly struck out for out number two. Stumpo then roped a single to left field that scored both McGrath and Cox to give WCU two extra insurance runs. With an 8-5 lead WCU called on freshman Fred Breidenbach, who picked up his first college save. Breidenbach threw two scoreless innings without allowing a hit, only walking one and striking out one.
Earlier in the fifth inning, Stumpo knotted the game at four with a two-run single to right field that pushed across Cox and McGrath. His single to right field also came with two outs in the fifth. Second basemen Joe Wendle gave the Golden Rams a 5-4 lead in the top of the seventh with a sacrifice fly that plated Kelly.
The LeNoir-Rhyne Bears came back with a run of their own in the bottom half of the seventh inning to tie the game at five a-piece. Five of WCU’s eight runs were scored with two outs.
New head coach Mark Jackson has brought with him his pitch-by-pitch philosophy that his players are buying into.
“Our philosophy is that every pitch is important in a game and our ability as a team to focus and go pitch-by-pitch is a key to our success,” Jackson said. “If a player can use positive concentration on each pitch, then he can make the most of every pitch in a game. So the clutch hit is just the ability to keep repeating this pitch-by-pitch philosophy. Sounds easy, but it is very challenging when you consider all the pitches in a baseball game.”
Stumpo’s performance in the season opener was exactly what coach Jackson wants to see throughout the season by all of his players.
“Bob Stumpo’s clutch hits were a result of his ability to stay focused and positive as well as the fact that he is an excellent hitter,” Jackson said. “He had a very good at-bat in the eighth inning when he got the two run single that put us ahead. Everyone in the lineup, like Bob, has the ability to hit for a high average and have these type of at bats throughout the season, and that is what makes us such a strong offensive team.”
The game started off with West Chester drawing first blood in their opening at-bat. Cox and Kelly hit back-to-back doubles with two outs in the top of the first. LeNoir-Rhyne answered quickly, with two runs in their half of the first inning, and scored another in the third inning to take an early 3-1 lead.
Senior first basemen Kyle Orensky hit a solo home run in the top of the fourth to cut WCU’s deficit down to one run (3-2). Once again, LeNoir-Rhyne answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning.
Sophomore left-hander Conor Kerins (1-0) earned his first win of the season as he pitched four innings in relief. He allowed two runs on four hits in four innings of work while walking two and striking out three. Kerins came on in the fourth for starter Eric Carmichael.
Carmichael’s day ended after four innings of work. He gave up three runs, only one of which was earned while walking four and striking out one. Stumpo finished the day 2-for-5 with a game-high four RBI. Cox and McGrath each had a pair of hits in Sunday’s win.
Cox scored three runs and knocked in another; McGrath scored twice. WCU was originally scheduled to play a three-game weekend series that had to be cut short to one nine-inning game on Sunday, Feb. 14, due to snow in the Carolinas.
Lenoir-Rhyne’s Brian Chandler (0-1) received the loss in relief. He lasted an inning and a third, allowing three runs, two of them earned, without giving up a hit. Starter Chris Henderson lasted five and a third innings, giving up eight hits and four runs. Henderson walked three and struck out five Golden Rams.
WCU’s pitching staff could not solve their problem of Stephan Arcieri as he went 4-for-4 with a pair of RBI. Alex Cook also knocked in two runs for LeNoir-Rhyne.
The West Chester Golden Rams get back to action this weekend as they travel to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for five games. They have a double-header on Friday against Felician and Philadelphia University, and again on Sunday against Post and Philadelphia University. On Saturday they face Felician in their only game of the day, beginning at 1:30 p.m.
Steven Fisher is a third-year student majoring in communications with a minor in Journalism. He can be reached at SF674180@wcupa.edu.