SU baseball sets new record with 6 home runs in victory

Posted: March 28, 2014

Special to The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Early and often.

That’s how the Shenandoah University baseball team scored Thursday afternoon, and they did it in record-setting fashion.

The Hornets, ranked 19th in the latest poll, hit a school-record six home runs, including two by current ODAC Player of the Week Michael Paul, and rolled to an 18-7 non-conference victory over visiting Franklin & Marshall at Bridgeforth Field.

SU (17-4) hit a pair of home runs in the first, fourth, and sixth innings, with the blasts in both the fourth and sixth coming from the back-to-back variety. The Hornets also had plenty of help from the Diplomats, who committed six errors in the game.

“It was a good day to play at Bridgeforth,” said Shenandoah coach Kevin Anderson. “The wind was blowing out to left, but you’ve still got to barrel it up. Our guys came out ready to play and elevated some balls at the plate. Tip your hat to our guys for getting mentally and physically ready to hit.

“A lot of guys are making adjustments and once again that’s a credit to our guys. Fortunately we’ve got some guys with power.”

Shenandoah didn’t waste any time getting on the board, or going long ball.

Leadoff hitter Billy Arens singled to start the bottom of the first and Corbin Lucas followed with his second round-tripper of the season, a shot over the left-field fence for a 2-0 advantage.

One out later, Paul hit his team-leading sixth of the season to give the Hornets a 3-0 lead after one. It also extended his hitting streak to 23 games.

In the second inning the Hornets put together the first of their two five-run frames, and had plenty of help doing it.

The Diplomats committed three errors in the inning, including two on one play, to help SU build an 8-0 cushion.

During the five-run outburst Lew Johnson had an RBI single, Nolan Overby an RBI double and Lucas drove in his third of the game with a sacrifice fly.

Franklin & Marshall (8-9) broke into the scoring column with a run in its half of the fourth to cut the deficit to 8-1, but the Hornets were far from done.

SU answered with another five-run inning in their half of the fourth to extend the lead to 13-1.

After Overby reached on another Diplomat error to start the inning, Paul drilled his second homer of the game and seventh of the season. First baseman Dan Powers followed that up with his third of the season to increase the lead to 11-1.

It’s not often a hitter collects two hits in a game and watches his average drop, but that’s exactly what happened to Paul Thursday afternoon.

Paul entered the game hitting over ,500, but his 2-for-6 afternoon dropped his average to .488 on the season.

“I’ve been seeing the ball well, Paul said. “Two home runs today but that’s not good enough. I need to improve on something everyday.

“The biggest thing is to swing the bats well so there is no pressure on the pitching staff. We need to keep up with the pitching, hitting, and defense. We need to keep all three phases going.”

Later in the fourth inning Arens ripped a two-run single, the second of his three hits, to give the Hornets a 13-1 lead after four. Arens finished the game 4 for 6 with two RBIs and two runs scored. He was on base five of his six at bats.

Seemingly each time the Diplomats tried to rally the Hornets answered with as many runs or more.

Franklin & Marshall scored twice in the sixth only to watch the Hornets continue their home-run craze in the bottom half of the inning.

Left fielder Andrew Creamer led off the sixth with a single to left, setting the stage for second baseman J.J. McDaniel to launch his second long ball of the season to tie the school record with the team’s fifth home run of the game.

It didn’t take long for the Hornets to break the record as the next hitter, catcher Joe Bittner, blasted a fastball over the fence in dead center field, his third of the season, pushing the lead to 16-3.

The Diplomats scored two runs in both the seventh and eighth innings, but SU was able to keep its distance by pushing two more of its own across in the bottom of the seventh.

All nine starters had at least one hit and scored one run for SU. All but one had at least one RBI and reserve outfielder Ricky Prado even got in on the act, collecting a hit off the bench in his only at bat.

SU outhit Franklin & Marshall 17-11, with five players having multiple-hit games for the Hornets. Arens led the way for the Hornets at the plate with his four hits.

“We’ve played a lot more games then we’ve practiced,” Anderson said. “We’re past the midway point now. We like our club. When we put all three phases of the game together we think we have a chance to be pretty good.”