West Chester won their first series of this young season, taking three of four against Kutztown in back-to- back double headers on Monday and Tuesday, improving to 7-6 overall, and 5-3 in the PSAC.
“Monday we played our most complete games of the season,” Coach Jad Prachniak said. “I thought our pitchers threw well, played strong defense, and had a good overall approach offensively.”
In the first game on Monday, the Rams got an early boost as senior Dylan Tice belted a solo homerun to right field off Kutztown pitcher Bobby Redick. Tice had a great day at the plate, reaching base twice in each of the two games. [pullquote align=”center”]Monday we played our most complete games of the season, I thought our pitchers threw well, played strong defense, and had a good overall approach offensively.[/pullquote]
“I’ve just been trying to hit the ball hard and get on for the guys behind me,” Tice said.
That is what a coach looks for in a two-hole hitter, someone who reaches base consistently, in order to give the middle of the lineup RBI situations. It does not hurt though, when a guy hitting second in the lineup can drive the ball over the fence.
“I just kept things simple, and put the barrel on the ball,” Tice said of the homerun against Kutztown.
That approach seems to be working considering Tice has four homeruns in the first 13 games for the Golden Rams.
West Chester starter Eric Close threw three scoreless innings to start the game, before allowing one run in each of the fourth and sixth innings, en route to the win. Close scattered seven hits through six innings, allowing no walks and striking out five.
After Tice’s homerun in the first, the Rams added three in the second and two in the fourth to cruise to the 6-2 victory in game one.
Game two started a little differently with Kutztown taking an early 1-0 lead, but the end result was roughly the same, with West Chester pulling out the 6-3 win over the Cougars.
With two outs and a runner on second base in the top of the first inning, West Chester pitcher, Nick Stallings delivered a 3-2 curveball to Kutztown clean-up hitter Matthew Armour. Armour barreled it up, shooting it through the right side of the infield allowing Brady McNab to score, and putting Kutztown ahead 1-0.
“Usually the first inning is the toughest inning for me,” Stallings said. “The batter made a good swing on a 3-2 curveball and unfortunately it found a hole. After that I just stuck with my game plan and I tried to execute the best I could the rest of the game and trust my teammates to make the plays behind me.”
Stallings settled in after that, finishing the day with a complete game, allowing six hits, and only two earned runs. He struck out seven and walked two in the win.
The following day, West Chester’s offense picked up right where it left off, scoring seven runs in the first two innings on their way to a 10-8 victory.
Sophomore pitcher Andrew Gernert, who got the win, credited the offense for the win over Kutztown.
“Our offense really helped me out by putting a lot of runs on the board,” Gernert said. “That took some of the pressure off of me and just allowed me to pitch.”
With the run support, Gernert was stellar on Tuesday, allowing three hits over four innings, two runs, neither of which were earned, and four strikeouts to go with two walks on his way to the first win of the season.
The final score of 10-8 makes this game seem much closer than it actually was. West Chester was in control for the entire game, until the bullpen allowed five runs in the bottom of the seventh to allow Kutztown to pull within a couple of runs.
The five-run bottom of the seventh in game one may have given Kutztown some added life for game two, as they were able to pull out a win in the final game of the season series, avoiding a 4-0 sweep. Kutztown won the series finale 9-5, in which the Rams made six errors.
“I think game four of the series, Kutztown just played better than us, Coach Prachniak said. “We had some miscues and they capitalized on that.”
Regardless, the Rams came out with their first series win of the season, which is so important in conference play. One game can separate one team from another late in the season, and this series win could prove to be key down the road.
West Chester is set to take on PSAC East leading Bloomsburg University at home for a double-header on Sunday. The following day they will travel to Bloomsburg to take on the Huskies in another double-header, starting at 1 p.m.
Billy Reardon is a third-year student majoring in communications with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at WR783095@wcupa.edu