This weekend, the West Chester baseball team (2-1) began their 2017 season in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, playing in the Division II Spring Baseball Tournament. Playing in one game Friday and a double-header Saturday, the Rams were able to come away with two victories out of the three games.
In Friday’s game, West Chester faced off against Shepard University (1-6), where they were able to soundly come away with their first victory of the year with a final score of 15-6. Joe Kinee (1-0) picked up his first win of the season after coming in and pitching three and a third innings in relief, only allowing one run. Eric Close got the first start of the year for the Rams, giving up five runs in four and two thirds innings of work.
West Chester was able to get the scoring started in the first inning and it continued all the way through, scoring in every inning but the second and fifth. Center fielder Nick Bateman led the way for the purple and gold with five RBIs, going three for five with a double and a home run. Second basemen Joe Sheeran was able to add a home run of his own in the Rams’ high-scoring five-run third inning.
Shepard University was able to make it a 8-6 game going into the bottom half of the sixth inning, but the Rams were able to answer back with two runs of their own in the sixth and tack on five more runs in the seventh and eighth innings.
Saturday, the Rams faced off against fellow PSAC foe, Slippery Rock University (2-1), in a double-header that teams were able to split one game apiece. In game one, West Chester was able to continue the hot hitting from Friday, compiling 11 hits and comfortably winning, 9-1.
Sophomore right-hander Jon Fisher (1-0) was able pitch a complete game for the purple and gold. Giving up only three hits and walking three, Fisher was able to strike out seven Slippery Rock players.
West Chester was able to capitalize on a three-run first inning and never looked back. Catcher Corey Webb helped propel the Rams in there first game against Slippery Rock behind a 2-4 game at the plate with a RBI and a run scored in the team’s big five-run fourth inning.
In the second game of the double header, West Chester dropped their first game of the early season in a tight 2-1 fight. Despite being able to out hit Slippery Rock eight to six, the Rams were unable to recover from letting up two runs in the third inning.
Junior right-hander Mike Cipolla was able to pitch six innings for the Rams, striking out five batters along the way. Josh McClain came into game for one inning at the end of the game, striking out one.
Sheeran was able to record the only RBI for the Rams with a single in the fourth inning. The single run didn’t prove enough for West Chester though as they couldn’t score another run to tie the game in the remaining three innings.
In other program news, the Golden Rams are currently being represented in major league spring training by a former alumni. Joey Wendle, a WCU grad, is currently on the active roster for the Oakland Athletics. Wendle won the Division 2 national championship with West Chester back in 2012, and he cashed in on his success later on that week by being drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the sixth round of the MLB Draft. He made his MLB debut last season on Aug. 31, 2016, scoring one run in the game. He hopes to make the cut by the time April rolls around.
West Chester will finish up the Division II Spring Baseball Tournament Sunday with a final game against Philadelphia University. After the tournament, the Rams will travel down to Florida for the Russmatt Invitational from March 11 till the 15.
Maxwell Randolph can be reached at MR829829@wcupa.edu.